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Medieval standing cross in St Oswald's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Dean, Cumbria

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.6148 / 54°36'53"N

Longitude: -3.4401 / 3°26'24"W

OS Eastings: 307096.430212

OS Northings: 525353.021335

OS Grid: NY070253

Mapcode National: GBR 4HF2.0J

Mapcode Global: WH702.484L

Entry Name: Medieval standing cross in St Oswald's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 21 February 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014805

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27711

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Dean

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Dean St Oswald

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

Details

The monument includes the stepped base (also known as a calvary) of a medieval
standing cross together with a later cross base and sundial located on top of
it. The cross which is Listed Grade II is situated in the churchyard to the
south of St Oswald's Church, Dean, and consists of an octagonal sandstone base
of six steps which measures 5m in diameter at ground level and is 1.6m high. A
stone cross base, or socle, has been set upon the top of the calvary and
cemented into this base is a sandstone sundial which is inscribed 1825. This
cross base is thought to be a replacement of the medieval original. The exact
date of this replacement is not known, although it predates 1825.
Traditionally the monument is associated with nearby Calder Abbey and it
functioned as a preaching cross.
Where modern graves and headstones lie within the protective margin of the
monument they are excluded from the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 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 the loss of its original cross shaft, this cross survives reasonably
well and remains in its original position. Preaching crosses are rare in
Cumbria and this example attests to the influence of Calder Abbey in western
Cumbria during the medieval period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Proceedings, , Vol. XXV, (1925), 352-3
Other
Morris,R., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Standing Crosses, (1990)
SMR No. 5950, Cumbria SMR, St Oswald's Church, Dean, (1985)

Source: Historic England

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