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Medieval cross in Ightfield churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Ightfield, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.9438 / 52°56'37"N

Longitude: -2.6078 / 2°36'28"W

OS Eastings: 359250.002483

OS Northings: 338659.077268

OS Grid: SJ592386

Mapcode National: GBR 7P.LP13

Mapcode Global: WH9BV.X8BL

Entry Name: Medieval cross in Ightfield churchyard

Scheduled Date: 8 January 1971

Last Amended: 24 December 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015296

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27567

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Ightfield

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Ightfield St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument includes a standing stone cross located in the churchyard at
Ightfield, c.8m ESE of the south porch. The cross has a stepped base and
ornate socket stone of medieval date, and a restored shaft and head.
The base is octagonal in plan and has four steps, with a diameter of 3m at the
base and a total height of c.1.2m. The octagonal socket stone measures 0.85m
in diameter by 0.8m high. It has a moulded base and rim, and each cardinal
face contains a quatrefoil in relief within a square. The diagonal faces each
have applied pillars in the form of figures whose detail is obscured by
weathering. The restored shaft is octagonal in section with a moulded base,
and tapers slightly to a decorated neck with arched niches set into each face
at the top. The simple cross head has a moulded base and both shaft and arms
are also octagonal in section.
The gravel surface around the cross and the concrete step from the path are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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 Ightfield churchyard is a good example of a medieval standing
cross with an octagonal stepped base and unusual ornate 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 restoration of the cross shaft and head illustrates its
continued function as a public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cranage, DHS, Churches of Salop II, Pt 8, (1903), 699

Source: Historic England

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