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Churchyard cross, St Michael's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Maxstoke, Warwickshire

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Latitude: 52.4791 / 52°28'44"N

Longitude: -1.6539 / 1°39'14"W

OS Eastings: 423602.684045

OS Northings: 286850.072099

OS Grid: SP236868

Mapcode National: GBR 5JQ.GPS

Mapcode Global: VHBWH.9Y0F

Entry Name: Churchyard cross, St Michael's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 1 August 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014691

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21645

County: Warwickshire

Civil Parish: Maxstoke

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Warwickshire

Church of England Parish: Maxstoke

Church of England Diocese: Birmingham


The monument includes a standing stone cross located within the churchyard of
St Michael's Church, Maxstoke, approximately 14m south east of the south
porch. The cross is of stepped form and is medieval in date. It includes a
base, consisting of a plinth and one step, a socket-stone, a shaft and the
remains of an ornamental knop.
The step is square in plan and constructed of ashlar blocks resting on a
plinth which is 2m square. The socket-stone stands on the step and is
approximately 0.75m square in section and standing to a height of just over
0.5m. Its corners are chamfered and moulded so that the top of the
socket-stone has an octagonal section. Set into this socket-stone is a 2.58m
high stone shaft, of square section at its base with chamfered corners
tapering upwards in octagonal section. Surmounting the shaft is an ornamental,
moulded knop to which the cross-head would have originally been attached. The
surviving height of the cross is 2.8m.
Immediately to the south and south west of St Michael's churchyard are the
ruins and earthwork remains of Maxstoke Priory which are the subject of a
separate scheduling.
The grave marker to the north of the cross is totally excluded from the

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 Maxstoke is a good example of a medieval cross with a
square socket-stone and an octagonal shaft. Situated near the south porch of
the church, it is believed to stand in or near its original position and
limited activity immediately surrounding the cross indicates that
archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use are
likely to survive intact. The importance of the cross is enhanced by its
continued use as a public monument and amenity from the medieval period
through to the present day.

Source: Historic England


RCHME, Maxstoke Priory - Archaeological Report, (1992)

Source: Historic England

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