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Standing cross in churchyard of St Gregory's Church at Cropton

A Scheduled Monument in Cropton, North Yorkshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.2935 / 54°17'36"N

Longitude: -0.8396 / 0°50'22"W

OS Eastings: 475626.491058

OS Northings: 489277.058984

OS Grid: SE756892

Mapcode National: GBR QLLS.1N

Mapcode Global: WHF9P.2BGV

Entry Name: Standing cross in churchyard of St Gregory's Church at Cropton

Scheduled Date: 18 July 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012886

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25635

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Cropton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Cropton St Gregory

Church of England Diocese: York

Details

The monument includes a Grade II Listed standing cross in the churchyard of St
Gregory's Church at Cropton. It comprises the original base and part of the
shaft.

The cross stands in its original position 15m from the south wall of the
church. The base is shaped like a drum and stands 0.36m high from ground level
and 0.99m in diameter. It is earth fast. The shaft stands on the base and is
square in section. It is 0.21m wide and is 0.78m high from the base to the top
where it has been broken. At a point 0.23m from the base the shaft has been
sculpted to a chamfered edge with a small crocket ornament on the bevel at
each corner. The form and style of the cross date it to the 14th century.

There is a small brass plate fixed to the east face of the shaft which
commemorates its restoration in 1776.

The gravestones around the monument are excluded from the scheduling but the
ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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 standing cross at St Gregory's Church, Cropton, survives well in spite of
damage to the shaft and the loss of the head. Some detail of its original
decoration survives. It is probably in its original position on the south side
of the present church. Since the church itself was rebuilt in the 19th century
this cross gives a strong indication of an earlier medieval church on that
site.

The church and cross must be seen in the context of the motte and bailey
castle 50m to the west of the churchyard and thus becomes part of a relict
medieval landscape.

Source: Historic England

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