Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross, All Saints' churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Scraptoft, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.6439 / 52°38'38"N

Longitude: -1.0443 / 1°2'39"W

OS Eastings: 464764.128

OS Northings: 305558.249002

OS Grid: SK647055

Mapcode National: GBR 9NX.6TF

Mapcode Global: WHFKH.XSXZ

Entry Name: Churchyard cross, All Saints' churchyard

Scheduled Date: 31 July 1952

Last Amended: 15 May 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014515

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21650

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Scraptoft

Built-Up Area: Leicester

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Scraptoft All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Leicester


The monument includes a standing stone cross located within the churchyard of
All Saints' Church, Scraptoft, approximately 7m south east of the south porch.
The cross, which is Listed Grade II*, is of stepped form and is probably 13th
century in origin. It includes a base, consisting of a plinth and two steps, a
socket stone, a shaft and an ornamental head.
The steps are circular in plan and rest on a deeply moulded plinth. They are
constructed of both ashlar blocks and reused fragments of a millstone, and an
inscription on the northern face of the second step records a restoration in
1964. On this step stands the socket stone which is 0.32m square in section
and the upper part of its corners are carved into four sub-circular shaft
bases. Set into the socket stone is a 1.67m high stone shaft of square section
with roll mouldings applied to each angle. The shaft has been repaired; its
two lowest stones, and the uppermost, are thought to represent the remains of
the original shaft, whilst the remainder dates from a later restoration of the
cross. The shaft rises to a moulded ornamental knop, above which are the
remains of the cross-head of which the arms are now missing. The full height
of the cross is 2.7m.
The surface of the modern pathway to the north and north east of the cross is
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

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 churchyard cross at Scraptoft is a near complete example of an elaborate
standing cross with a stepped base, a moulded socket stone and a roll moulded
shaft. Situated near the south porch of the church, it is believed to stand in
its original position and limited disturbance of the area immediately
surrounding the cross indicates that archaeological deposits relating to the
monument's construction and use are likely to survive intact. While most of
the cross survives from medieval times, subsequent restoration illustrates its
continued use as a public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England

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