Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Taston village cross

A Scheduled Monument in Spelsbury, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.8959 / 51°53'45"N

Longitude: -1.4792 / 1°28'45"W

OS Eastings: 435935.053

OS Northings: 222059.509

OS Grid: SP359220

Mapcode National: GBR 6TF.4TR

Mapcode Global: VHBZH.9LWY

Entry Name: Taston village cross

Scheduled Date: 1 March 1963

Last Amended: 1 December 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008406

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21795

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Spelsbury

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Spelsbury

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes the remains of a typical Cotswold village cross,
situated on a small triangular green at the centre of the village of Taston.
It has a base of three square steps, constructed of oolite blocks and
measuring up to 2.85m across. There is also evidence of a lower layer of stone
beneath ground level which forms a footing for the monument and which measures
c.2.95m across.
The steps support a single square socket stone which measures 0.9m across and
stands 0.6m high. Set into this is the lower portion of a tapered octagonal
shaft the lower 1m of which survives, while the top, which supported the head
of the cross, is no longer present.
The cross is Listed at grade II*.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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 Taston village cross is an example of a regional style of village cross,
despite the head of the monument having been lost. It stands in its original
position at the centre of the village and the ground beneath and around its
base will contain archaeological material relating to its construction and its
use as the focus of the hamlet.
The cross is also unusual in that it lies only 12m south of a prehistoric
standing stone. Both monuments are at the centre of the settlement and the
ground on which they stand formed the intersection of roads and the location
of the village green.
It is probable that the ground around the base of the cross will retain
evidence of temporary posts and other structures associated with the communal
activities of the village's inhabitants.

Source: Historic England


AA 61030/1 AM 107, FMW, Taston Standing Stone, (1976)
PRN 2581, C.A.O., Taston Village Cross, (1991)
SP 32 SE 15, R.C.H.M.(E), Standing Stone, (1976)

Source: Historic England

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