Ancient Monuments

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Boundary cross on the corner of Ferrybridge Road and Stumpcross Lane

A Scheduled Monument in Pontefract North, Wakefield

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Latitude: 53.7054 / 53°42'19"N

Longitude: -1.2903 / 1°17'24"W

OS Eastings: 446947.429

OS Northings: 423449.9775

OS Grid: SE469234

Mapcode National: GBR MTFL.GG

Mapcode Global: WHDC7.44V6

Entry Name: Boundary cross on the corner of Ferrybridge Road and Stumpcross Lane

Scheduled Date: 27 September 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011848

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23377

County: Wakefield

Electoral Ward/Division: Pontefract North

Built-Up Area: Pontefract

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Pontefract All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


The monument is the socle or socket stone of the late 11th or 12th century
boundary cross known as Stump Cross or Ralph's Cross. It comprises a
rectangular sandstone block decorated on all four faces with blind arcading
consisting of three Norman style arches linked by pillars with moulded
capitals and pedestals.
The socle is enclosed by iron railings preventing accurate measurement, but it
appears to measure c.90cm x c.80cm x c.50cm high. In the top is a large socket
hole measuring c.50cm x c.30cm x c.15cm deep which indicates that the missing
cross shaft was probably quite massive. A large fragment of the cross shaft
was drawn prior to 1793 by John Carter and shown to have been decorated along
its edges with barley-twist mouldings. Two sides were ornamented with
geometrical and foliage patterns and the remaining sides with a nude male
figure and an eagle in a rounded niche. This fragment is now missing but two
other fragments with barley-twist edging have now been assigned to this cross
and are currently located in Pontefract museum. The first has a kneeling
figure and foliage on its two narrow faces and a mounted Norman soldier with a
lance on one of its broad faces, while the second has interlace and a seated
figure with crossed legs on its broad faces and a standing figure with sword,
shield and chainmail on one of its narrow faces. The remaining faces are both
damaged. The socle is understood to be in its original location and marks the
boundary between Pontefract and Ferry Fryston. This boundary dates to before
the Norman Conquest though the cross itself is later and may be a monastic
cross marking the edge of land formerly owned by St John's Priory.
The railings surrounding the cross, and the `blue plaque' on the railings, are
excluded from the scheduling though the ground underneath is included.

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

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.

Though missing its shaft, the boundary cross on the corner of Ferrybridge Road
and Stumpcross Lane is important for its well preserved decoration and its in
situ association with a pre-Conquest administrative boundary and possible
function as a monastic boundary marker.

Source: Historic England


Battye, H, Pontefract: key to the North, 1981, Unpublished manuscript
In WYAS SMR file, West Yorkshire Archaeological Service, (1987)
Shackleton Hill, Angela, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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