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Authority English Heritage
Other Ref SM Cat. No. 6
Date assigned Friday, August 10, 1923
Date last amended Thursday, November 10, 1994


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. Wheston Cross is a very well preserved and beautiful example of a simple standing cross with a decorated cross-head which, although possibly not in situ, stands close to its original location. DETAILS The monument is a standing cross of probable 14th or 15th century date reputed originally to have stood at the T-junction in the centre of Wheston village. It is made of sandstone and comprises two steps of mortared blocks which are set beneath a socle or socket-stone surmounted by a cross-shaft which is in turn crowned by an ornate carved cross-head. The base step is c.2m square. The socle, which is 0.5m tall and 90cm square at the base, is a slightly tapering octagonal block with pyramidal stops on alternate faces. The shaft is in two sections and is of tapering square section with chamfered edges. The cusped and decorated cross-head, which appears to be complete, incorporates on its west face a figure of the Virgin and Child with a star over the Virgin's head and sunbursts at the ends of the cross-arms. The cross-arms terminate in decorative mouldings. On the east face is the torso of Christ crucified incorporating much physical detail but deliberately lacking facial features. The overall height of the cross is c.3m with the shaft and cross-head accounting for c.2m. The cross, which was reputedly moved to its current location in the 17th century, has been repaired at some point and is also a Grade II* Listed feature. Inscribed on the top step on the east side is the graffito DJ 1811 or, possibly, DJB 1811. It is one of two medieval crosses which stood in or near Wheston, the other being located near Crossgate Farm on the road to Tideswell. SELECTED SOURCES Book Reference - Author: Dodd, A.E. and Dodd, E.M. - Title: Peakland Roads and Trackways - Date: 1974 - Page References: 65 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: Mapped Book Reference - Author: Rimmer, A. - Title: Ancient Stone Crosses - Date: 1875 - Page References: 132-3 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: Illustrated

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Sources (1)

  • Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1923. Scheduling Notification: Standing Cross known as Wheston Cross. List entry no. 1009050. SM Cat. No. 6.



Grid reference Centred SK 1319 7644 (18m by 18m)
Map sheet SK17NW

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Record last edited

Sep 4 2013 11:56AM

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