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Medieval cross in St Giles' churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Chetton, Shropshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.5101 / 52°30'36"N

Longitude: -2.4966 / 2°29'47"W

OS Eastings: 366390.126001

OS Northings: 290357.725

OS Grid: SO663903

Mapcode National: GBR BW.GS3N

Mapcode Global: VH83N.N5ZM

Entry Name: Medieval cross in St Giles' churchyard

Scheduled Date: 23 December 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015293

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27562

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Chetton

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Chetton

Church of England Diocese: Hereford

Details

The monument includes a standing stone cross situated in the churchyard of St
Giles, Chetton, c.8m south east of the south porch. The sandstone cross is of
stepped form, and includes a base, socket stone and shaft, all of medieval
date.
The single step which forms the base of the cross is formed of ashlar blocks
and is square in section, with sides of 1.4m. The base is 0.3m high, and is
set into a gentle south facing slope so that the top of the step is flush with
the grass on the north side. The socket stone is also square in section, and
measures 0.9m at the base. It has broached angles which rise 0.4m to an
octagonal top. The remains of the shaft rise 1.2m from the centre of the
socket stone. The shaft, which is square in section at the base with sides of
0.3m, has chamfered angles above stops, and the gnomon of a sundial remains
set into its top.
The grave markers to the south west and north east of the cross are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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 Giles' churchyard is a good example of a medieval standing
cross with a stepped base and broached socket stone. It is believed to stand
in its original position, and limited development 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.
The reuse of the cross as a sundial illustrates its continued function as a
public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England

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