Ancient Monuments

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Standing cross known as Wheston Cross

A Scheduled Monument in Wheston, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.2848 / 53°17'5"N

Longitude: -1.8036 / 1°48'12"W

OS Eastings: 413193.535594

OS Northings: 376437.863211

OS Grid: SK131764

Mapcode National: GBR HZVG.B6

Mapcode Global: WHCCS.8PFP

Entry Name: Standing cross known as Wheston Cross

Scheduled Date: 10 August 1923

Last Amended: 10 November 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009050

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23349

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Wheston

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Tideswell St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Derby


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.

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.

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.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dodd, A E, Dodd, E M, Peakland Roads and Trackways, (1974), 65
Rimmer, A, Ancient Stone Crosses, (1875), 132-3

Source: Historic England

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