Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross, St Mary's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Ellenhall, Staffordshire

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Latitude: 52.836 / 52°50'9"N

Longitude: -2.2372 / 2°14'13"W

OS Eastings: 384115.762178

OS Northings: 326519.751

OS Grid: SJ841265

Mapcode National: GBR 16C.C5H

Mapcode Global: WHBDK.LZW8

Entry Name: Churchyard cross, St Mary's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 8 January 1974

Last Amended: 9 June 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012661

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21591

County: Staffordshire

Civil Parish: Ellenhall

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Ellenhall St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument includes a standing stone cross situated in the churchyard of St
Mary's Church, Ellenhall, approximately 2.5m south east of the south porch.
The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is of stepped form and is medieval and
later in date. The monument includes a base consisting of three steps, a
socket-stone and a shaft, all of which are principally medieval in date; it
also includes a head which dates from the late 19th century restoration of the
The steps are roughly square in plan and are constructed from blocks of faced
stone. The edges of the three steps are slightly chamfered. On the third step
stands the socket-stone which is approximately 0.7m high. Its corners are
moulded and chamfered so that the top of the stone has an octagonal section.
Set into the socket-stone is the shaft which has a square section with
chamfered corners. It tapers upwards and is 1.2m high. The lower 0.9m of the
shaft represents the remains of the original medieval shaft, while its upper
0.3m is of modern date. The head of the cross takes the form of a stone
crucifix with decorated terminals and dates from the late 19th century
restoration of the cross. The full height of the cross is approximately 4m.
The modern pavement to the west of the cross is excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath it is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 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 churchyard cross at Ellenhall is a good example of a medieval standing
cross with a stepped base. Limited activity in the area immediately
surrounding the cross indicates that archaeological deposits relating to the
monument's construction in this location are likely to survive intact. While
the base, socket-stone and much of the shaft have survived from medieval
times, the subsequent restoration of the upper part of the shaft and head
demonstrates the continued function of the cross as a public monument and

Source: Historic England


RCHME, SJ82NW13, (1974)

Source: Historic England

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