Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross, St George's Church

A Scheduled Monument in South Acre, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.6965 / 52°41'47"N

Longitude: 0.6771 / 0°40'37"E

OS Eastings: 581004.461

OS Northings: 314342.228

OS Grid: TF810143

Mapcode National: GBR Q7B.XPJ

Mapcode Global: WHKQP.CHP4

Entry Name: Churchyard cross, St George's Church

Scheduled Date: 31 January 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015270

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21418

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: South Acre

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: South Acre St George

Church of England Diocese: Norwich


The monument includes the lower part of a medieval churchyard cross situated
in the churchyard of St George's Church, South Acre, c.20m south of the church
and c.5m north west of the churchyard gate. The cross, which is also Listed
Grade II and is thought to be of 14th or 15th century date, is of limestone
and is constructed in two parts. At the base is a rectangular socket stone
measuring c.0.74m east-west by c.0.78m north-south with spurs at the upper
angles, and this is hollowed on the upper surface to a depth of c.3cm. The
lower part of the shaft of the cross, which is cemented into the centre of the
hollow, tapers slightly and is octagonal in cross section, with alternate
straight and hollow chamfering and crocket stops above a square foot. The
upper part of the shaft and head are missing. The socket stone is partly
buried and stands c.0.3m above the present ground surface, and the shaft rises
to a height of c.0.85m above this, the overall height being c.1.15m.

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 in St George's churchyard is a good example of a medieval
standing cross, and the surviving lower part of the shaft displays some
unusual architectural details. Situated near the churchyard gate, it is
believed to stand on or near its original position, and archaeological
deposits relating to its construction and use are likely to be preserved in
the ground immediately around and beneath it. The cross has undergone no
post-medieval restoration and has continued in use as a public monument from
the medieval period to the present day.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cozens-Hardy, , 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Norfolk Crosses, , Vol. 25, (1935), 325

Source: Historic England

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