Ancient Monuments

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Medieval standing cross 320m east of St Andrew's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Leigh, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.8756 / 50°52'32"N

Longitude: -2.5399 / 2°32'23"W

OS Eastings: 362105.83023

OS Northings: 108597.927797

OS Grid: ST621085

Mapcode National: GBR MT.T0BP

Mapcode Global: FRA 56KS.J96

Entry Name: Medieval standing cross 320m east of St Andrew's Church

Scheduled Date: 29 July 1960

Last Amended: 18 November 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015040

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27440

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Leigh

Built-Up Area: Leigh

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Leigh St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a medieval standing cross at the road junction at the
eastern end of the village 320m east of the church.
The cross sits on a modern base and step which is a maximum of 1.6m square.
Above this the medieval cross includes a socket stone of Ham stone, 0.58m high
which is 0.82m square at the base, and moulded at the top to make it
octagonal. The socket hole is 0.37m square and contains 0.05m of the original
shaft run in with lead. Set diagonally into this is a tapering cross shaft,
0.33m square at the base, and c.1.5m high. This part of the cross is probably
15th century in date. The shaft retains traces of carved figures under
canopies which are now very much eroded. One figure is probably St George and
the Dragon. On the south west face the carving has been tooled away and a thin
stone has been fixed to the shaft with two iron dowels; there are two further
dowel holes on this face near the top of the shaft. At the top of the shaft is
a new cross head. The cross is Listed Grade II.

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.

Despite the fact that the head has been removed, the medieval standing cross
320m east of St Andrew's Church is comparatively well preserved and remains
an important example of its class.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Dorset: Volume 1 , (1952), 131
Saunders, A D, (1959)

Source: Historic England

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