Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross, St Peter ad Vincula churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Ratley and Upton, Warwickshire

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Latitude: 52.1232 / 52°7'23"N

Longitude: -1.4413 / 1°26'28"W

OS Eastings: 438346.5985

OS Northings: 247353.276

OS Grid: SP383473

Mapcode National: GBR 6QL.VV8

Mapcode Global: VHBYB.YWXR

Entry Name: Churchyard cross, St Peter ad Vincula churchyard

Scheduled Date: 1 August 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014685

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21629

County: Warwickshire

Civil Parish: Ratley and Upton

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Warwickshire

Church of England Parish: Ratley St Peter ad Vincula

Church of England Diocese: Coventry


The monument includes a standing stone cross located within the churchyard of
St Peter ad Vincula's Church in Ratley, approximately 6m north east of the
north porch. The cross, which is Listed Grade II*, is of stepped form and is
medieval in date. The monument includes a base of two steps, a socket stone, a
shaft and the remains of an ornamental cross head.
The steps are octagonal in plan, 2m in diameter, and are constructed of stone
blocks. The socket stone stands on the second step and is also octagonal in
section. Set into the centre of the socket stone is a stone shaft,
approximately 0.3m square in section at the base, rising through chamfered
corners in tapering octagonal section to a height of c.1.75m. The top of the
shaft narrows to form a distinct neck with sloping shoulders, above which, it
broadens to form a circular boss which represents the remains of the
cross-head. The full height of the cross is approximately 3.7m.

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 Ratley is a good example of a medieval standing cross
with a stepped base and an octagonal shaft. The cross is believed to stand in
its original position and limited activity in the area immediately surrounding
it indicates that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's erection
and subsequent use are likely to survive intact. The cross has not been
restored and has continued in use as a public monument and amenity from
medieval times to the present day.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Warwickshire , (1949), 147

Source: Historic England

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