Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross in St Kenelm's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Sapperton, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.7291 / 51°43'44"N

Longitude: -2.0772 / 2°4'38"W

OS Eastings: 394760.531562

OS Northings: 203377.090937

OS Grid: SO947033

Mapcode National: GBR 2P8.HNN

Mapcode Global: VH950.YS6V

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Kenelm's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 28 June 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014417

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22100

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Sapperton

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Sapperton St Kenelm

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester


The monument includes a standing cross situated in the churchyard at Sapperton
c.30m south of St Kenelm's Church. The churchyard slopes from south east to
north west and the base is set into the slope.
The cross has a square base step, a socket stone and shaft. The base of the
step is 1.7m square and 0.5m high. Above this is the socket stone, square at
the base running into an octagonal and then a circle. The base is 0.85m square
and has a total height of 0.36m. The sides of the octagonal measure 0.3m, and
the circle has a diameter of 0.7m. The socket for the shaft is 0.3m square.
The shaft, square at the bottom, tapers and becomes cylindrical in section. It
is 1.65m high, having a tenon on the top for inserting into the head.
The base step is constructed from stone blocks. The socket stone appears more
weathered and is hewn from one piece of stone. These have the appearance of
great age, but the shaft appears less weather worn. The cross is considered to
be 15th century.
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.

The churchyard cross at Sapperton is believed to be in its original position.
It is a good example of its class and survives well as a visually impressive
monument of the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pooley, C, Notes on the Old Crosses of Gloucestershire, (1868), 61

Source: Historic England

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