Ancient Monuments

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Cross in the churchyard of St Leonard's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Thrybergh, Rotherham

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Latitude: 53.454 / 53°27'14"N

Longitude: -1.2978 / 1°17'51"W

OS Eastings: 446728.8732

OS Northings: 395474.0463

OS Grid: SK467954

Mapcode National: GBR MXCH.TK

Mapcode Global: WHDDD.1F9Z

Entry Name: Cross in the churchyard of St Leonard's Church

Scheduled Date: 23 August 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012931

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23400

County: Rotherham

Civil Parish: Thrybergh

Built-Up Area: Rotherham

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): South Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Thrybergh St Leonard

Church of England Diocese: Sheffield


The monument is the shaft of a medieval cross currently located in St
Leonard's churchyard in Thrybergh. It comprises a slightly tapering
rectangular section shaft of magnesian limestone set on a modern sandstone
The shaft measures c.1.3m high and 30cm by 25cm at the base. All four corners
are moulded, the western pair with roll-moulding and the eastern pair with
faint traces of nodules at regular intervals. The mouldings frame panels of
carved decoration on all four faces. However, because the cross is not in its
original location, it is not known if the faces are correctly orientated. The
narrow south face is decorated with vine-scroll comprising two intertwining
stems cut off at the base by an uncarved section. The north face bears a form
of interlace decoration with a single boss at the centre of the pattern and
foliage forms near the base. The wider east face contains a tree form with a
straight central stem surrounded by foliage which is apparently damaged at the
base. On the west face, at the base, is the torso of a tonsured monk holding a
book and set in a niche surrounded by a roll-moulded lancet. Above the lancet
is an area of decoration which cannot be deciphered due to its faintness.
Above that is a four-legged hoofed animal and, above that, the feet, shins and
robe-hem of a human figure. The last indicates that the shaft is broken and
would originally have been at least 50cm taller.
The varied forms of the decoration make the cross difficult to date. The
lancet on the west face and an acanthus leaf on the north face both suggest a
13th century date. However, the interlace and vine-scroll may be 11th century
or earlier and suggest that the later forms may be the result of recarving.
The cross was moved to its present location in 1947, apparently from a
cemetery elsewhere in the village. It is associated with a local legend of a
crusader missing for seven years and reappearing at the site of the cross. In
addition, the cross is Listed Grade II.

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 broken and not in its original location, the cross in St Leonard's
churchyard is a reasonably well-preserved example whose importance is enhanced
by the unusual and varied ornamentation.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Collingwood, W G, Northumbrian Crosses of the Pre-Norman Age, (1927), 181
Collingwood, W G, Northumbrian Crosses of the Pre-Norman Age, (1927), 181
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire - The West Riding, (1959), 509
Collingwood, W G, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Anglian and Anglo-Danish Sculpture, , Vol. 23, (1915), 249
Ryder, P F, 'County Archaeological Monograph No.2' in Saxon Churches in South Yorkshire, (1982), 120-121
Ryder, P F, 'County Archaeological Monograph No.2' in Saxon Churches in South Yorkshire, (1982), 120-121
Drawing of north and west faces, South Yorkshire Archaeological Service Report, appendix B, (1992)
Shackleton Hill, Angela, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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