Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross, St Mary Magdalene's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Albrighton, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.6371 / 52°38'13"N

Longitude: -2.2832 / 2°16'59"W

OS Eastings: 380930.604502

OS Northings: 304408.221502

OS Grid: SJ809044

Mapcode National: GBR 079.RJW

Mapcode Global: WH9DC.WZY7

Entry Name: Churchyard cross, St Mary Magdalene's Church

Scheduled Date: 11 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015280

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27575

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Albrighton

Built-Up Area: Albrighton

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Albrighton St Mary Magdalene

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross in the churchyard
of St Mary Magdalene's Church, Albrighton, c.6m SSE of the south porch. The
cross takes the form of a stepped base of medieval and 20th century date, a
medieval socket stone, and a medieval shaft with 20th century restoration
including integral knop. The cross is Listed Grade II*.
The base includes four steps, square in plan and with a width at the base of
3.2m. The lower two steps are medieval in date and composed of large sandstone
blocks. The top two steps are 20th century replacements, and the top one has
an inscription running around all four sides. In all the base is c.1.1m high.
The socket stone is a single square block with sides of 0.8m, and is 0.5m
high. It has chamfered edges decorated with cable moulding, with a grotesque
face carved at each corner, a similar arrangement to that on the cross at
Donington c.230m NNW (the subject of a separate scheduling). The shaft
measures 0.4m at its square base and is broached to an octagonal section. The
lower 0.6m of the shaft is medieval in date and the remaining c.2m is a 20th
century replacement. The shaft tapers and returns to a square section above
stops near the top, forming a knop with moulded rim.
The grave marker to the north of the cross and the metalled path surface to
the west are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is

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 cross in St Mary Magdalene's churchyard is a good example of a medieval
standing cross with a stepped base and decorated socket stone. Limited
activity in the area immediately surrounding the cross indicates that
archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction in this
location are likely to survive intact. While parts of the cross have survived
from medieval times, the subsequent restoration of the steps and shaft
illustrates the continued function of the cross as a public monument and

Source: Historic England


DOE, Buildings of Special Hist & Arch Interest,
JR, Ordnance Survey Observation, (1959)

Source: Historic England

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