Ancient Monuments

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Standing cross at the Church of St James, Norton

A Scheduled Monument in Graves Park, Sheffield

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Latitude: 53.335 / 53°20'6"N

Longitude: -1.4626 / 1°27'45"W

OS Eastings: 435880.606667

OS Northings: 382145.361

OS Grid: SK358821

Mapcode National: GBR LY7W.46

Mapcode Global: WHDDW.HFQN

Entry Name: Standing cross at the Church of St James, Norton

Scheduled Date: 12 June 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012878

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23388

County: Sheffield

Electoral Ward/Division: Graves Park

Built-Up Area: Sheffield

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): South Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Norton St James

Church of England Diocese: Sheffield


The monument is the medieval standing cross located in St James's churchyard,
Norton. It includes a stepped base or calvary surmounted by a plinth and
socket stone which in turn holds an octagonal shaft. The socket stone and
shaft are less worn than the calvary and plinth and are of a different stone.
They are therefore interpreted as 18th or 19th century replacements of
medieval components removed in the 16th or 17th century. The calvary comprises
four circular gritstone steps with a maximum diameter of c.3m and a total
height of c.1.2m. The plinth is c.20cm thick and 1.2m square and is deeply
chamfered round its top edge. The socket stone or socle is c.50cm high and
measures c.1m in diameter. It is octagonal with pyramid stops on alternate
faces. A deep groove is incised round its mid-point giving it a stepped
appearance. The octagonal shaft is c.80cm tall and has a 20cm square pedestal
and capital. The latter is broken on one side and includes, in the top, a hole
for a metal pin. It is not clear whether this held a missing portion of a
taller cross shaft or whether, as is equally possible, the extant shaft served
as a sundial and the hole once held the gnomon.
Excluded from the scheduling is the surface of the modern path which passes
through the area of the scheduling on the west of the cross, although the
ground beneath is included.

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.

Though apparently missing its original cross shaft and socle, the base of the
cross in St James's churchyard is reasonably well-preserved and is a
visually impressive example of a stepped calvary, near to its original
location in the churchyard.

Source: Historic England


Hill, Angela Shackleton, (1994)
PI 257,

Source: Historic England

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