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Churchyard cross south west of St Giles Church

A Scheduled Monument in Shrewsbury, Shropshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.7018 / 52°42'6"N

Longitude: -2.7308 / 2°43'50"W

OS Eastings: 350716.622

OS Northings: 311819.487001

OS Grid: SJ507118

Mapcode National: GBR BK.2VT0

Mapcode Global: WH8BV.0CX2

Entry Name: Churchyard cross SW of St Giles Church

Scheduled Date: 18 November 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014898

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27554

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Shrewsbury

Built-Up Area: Shrewsbury

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Shrewsbury St Giles with Sutton

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

Details

The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross, situated 10m
south west of the south porch of St Giles Church, Shrewsbury. The cross
includes a stepped base which is a mid-20th century reconstruction, a medieval
socket stone, and a shaft and ornamented head which are also 20th century
restorations.
The base is of two steps of concrete blocks, 1.85m square at the base. The
socket stone is a limestone block, octagonal in plan and 0.4m diameter at the
base. The sides rise 0.6m to a deeply chamfered rim. The shaft is square in
section and tapers to a moulded neck and lantern head, with sculptured figural
scenes on the north and south faces under an ornate canopy. The overall height
of the monument is c.4m. Churchwardens' accounts refer to the medieval cross
head being removed in 1584-6 and rediscovered c.1795. The restored head is a
replica of this original, which is recorded as having been on display inside
the church in the 1900s.
The grave markers to the south west and north of the monument are excluded
from the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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.

Even though it is greatly restored, the cross in St Giles churchyard is a good
example of a medieval standing cross with an octagonal socket stone and ornate
head. Limited activity in the area immediately surrounding the cross suggests
that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use
in this location are likely to survive intact. While the socket stone has
survived from medieval times, the subsequent restoration of the steps and head
illustrates the continued function of the cross as a public monument and
amenity. Documentary references to the history of the cross and the survival
elsewhere of the original crosshead enhance interest in the monument.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
01550, churchyard crosses at St Giles Church,

Source: Historic England

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