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Medieval standing cross 15m south west of St Mary's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Sturminster Marshall, Dorset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.803 / 50°48'10"N

Longitude: -2.071 / 2°4'15"W

OS Eastings: 395091.311459

OS Northings: 100380.852595

OS Grid: ST950003

Mapcode National: GBR 31H.K7N

Mapcode Global: FRA 66KZ.10Y

Entry Name: Medieval standing cross 15m south west of St Mary's Church

Scheduled Date: 3 August 1961

Last Amended: 1 August 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014755

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27378

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Sturminster Marshall

Built-Up Area: Sturminster Marshall

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Sturminster Marshall St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

Details

The monument includes the remains of a stone cross of probable 14th century
date situated 15m south west of St Mary's Church, Sturminster Marshall. The
cross which is listed Grade II, has a socket stone and the remains of a stone
shaft. The socket stone is octagonal, each side measuring 0.45m, chamfered at
the top and 0.3m high with rounded tongues, 0.32m wide and 0.18m long,
projecting from four of the faces. The shaft is square with moulded round
corners, tapering from the base which is 0.37m by 0.35m, and, although broken,
is 1.8m high.

MAP EXTRACT
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.

Despite being incomplete, the remains of the standing cross 15m south west of
St Mary's Church, Sturminster Marshall, survives in its original position in
the churchyard and remains an important example of its class.

Source: Historic England

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