Knightlow Cross and mound


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020302

Date first listed: 17-Feb-1927

Date of most recent amendment: 09-May-2001


Ordnance survey map of Knightlow Cross and mound
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Warwickshire

District: Rugby (District Authority)

Parish: Ryton-on-Dunsmore

National Grid Reference: SP 40476 73702


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone, mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD). Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the scenes of games or recreational activity. Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the 13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base, buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their original location, are considered worthy of protection.

Knightlow Cross and the mound on which it stands survive well as standing, earthwork and buried remains. It is a good example of a medieval boundary cross and is rare in that it is associated with a well-documented tradition, still continuing, which dates back to medieval times. In addition the mound will preserve valuable evidence of land-use prior to its construction.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes Knightlow Cross, located on Knightlow Hill, close to the eastern edge of Ryton-on-Dunsmore parish. It is thought to represent the remains of a boundary cross. The cross, and the mound on which it stands, which is also included in the scheduling, are medieval in date. It has been suggested that the mound may have originated prior to the construction of the cross, perhaps as a burial tumulus which was later adapted as a base for the cross.

Situated on a ridge overlooking the Avon valley, the monument takes the form of a subcircular mound measuring 11m east-west by 10m and up to 1.25m in height. Standing approximately at the centre of the mound is a roughly square sandstone socket-stone measuring 0.78m by 0.76m by 0.42m high. The socket measures 0.38m by 0.35m by 0.35m deep and has a slightly rounded base. The west side of the socket-stone is marked by a deep sloping groove. Formerly fixed in the socket would have been the shaft which supported the cross-head; the shaft is thought to have been destroyed in the 16th century.

A ceremony is held here each November 11th for receiving `wroth silver' a practice which can be traced back to a charter dating from the reign of King John.

The cross is Listed Grade II.

All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 33136

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Gover, J E B et al, The Place-Names of Warwickshire, (1936)
Salzman, LF (ed), The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire: Volume VI, (1951)
WA4273, (1999)
WA4274, (1999)

End of official listing