Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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The Butter Cross, 700m north east of Stile House Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Bradnop, Staffordshire

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Latitude: 53.1071 / 53°6'25"N

Longitude: -1.9739 / 1°58'26"W

OS Eastings: 401841.486

OS Northings: 356659.293797

OS Grid: SK018566

Mapcode National: GBR 24R.CR3

Mapcode Global: WHBCJ.N57B

Entry Name: The Butter Cross, 700m north east of Stile House Farm

Scheduled Date: 27 April 1976

Last Amended: 9 June 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012666

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21596

County: Staffordshire

Civil Parish: Bradnop

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Onecote St Luke

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument includes a standing stone cross, known locally as the Butter
Cross, located 700m north east of Stile House Farm. The cross, Listed Grade
II, is of stepped form and is thought to be late medieval in date with modern
repairs. The monument includes the base, consisting of two steps, and a
socket-stone and the shaft.
The steps are circular in plan, the lower constructed of gritstone blocks
while the upper step has been constructed from a single stone block. On this
step stands the socket-stone which is octagonal in section and now held
together by iron cramps. Set into the socket-stone is the tapering, stone
shaft, also octagonal in section. Alternate faces of the shaft have stops near
the base so that it is square for the bottom 100mm where it slots into the
socket-stone. The shaft is approximately 2.5m high and its apex has been
worked into a tenon onto which the head would have originally fitted. The
present height of the cross is approximately 3.2m high.

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 Butter Cross north east of Stile House Farm is a good example of a
medieval standing cross with a stepped base. Situated in an isolated location,
it is believed to stand in or near its original position and archaeological
deposits relating to the monument's construction and use in this location are
likely to survive intact. The cross has been little altered in modern times
and has continued in use as an important landmark.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dudcalf, F M, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club, , Vol. 79, (1945), 101
Department of the Environment, District of Staffordshire Moorlands - Greenback, (1985)

Source: Historic England

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