Scheduled Monument: STANDING CROSS IN THE CHURCHYARD OF ST PETER'S CHURCH (1009049)

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Authority English Heritage
Other Ref SM Cat. No. 222
Date assigned Thursday, January 7, 1971
Date last amended Thursday, November 10, 1994

Description

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. The cross in St Peter's churchyard is a well preserved example of a simple standing cross which would have played a role in the liturgy of the church. DETAILS The monument is a standing cross of probable 14th or 15th century date located to the south east of St Peter's Church. It is made of sandstone and comprises a buried foundation beneath three steps of mortared blocks which are set beneath a socle or socket-stone surmounted by a cross-shaft which is in turn crowned with a knop or capital and a carved pinnacle. The base step, which is currently flush with the modern asphalt surrounding it, is c.2.5m square. The cuboid socle is c.62cm square and has chamfered corners on its upper face. The octagonal shaft has pyramidal stops around the base and is leaded into its socket which is c.30cm square. It tapers towards the top and ends in a plain rounded knop above a simple moulded collar. Above the knop are the broken remains of a cusped pinnacle which may originally have formed the lower arm of a cross though this is not clear. The overall height of the monument is c.4m with the shaft and head accounting for c.2.5m. The modern surface surrounding the monument is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included. The cross is also Listed Grade II. SELECTED SOURCES Book Reference - Author: Cox, Rev. J.C. - Title: The Churches of Derbyshire - Date: 1877 - Volume: 3 - Page References: 290 - Type: DESC TEXT

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Sources (1)

  • Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1971. Scheduling Notification: Standing cross in the churchyard of St Peter's Church. List entry no. 1009049. SM Cat. No. 222.

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred SK 1362 3514 (10m by 9m)
Map sheet SK13NW
Civil Parish SOMERSAL HERBERT, DERBYSHIRE DALES, DERBYSHIRE

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Record last edited

Sep 26 2013 3:45PM

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