Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross, St Cuthbert's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Donington, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.6391 / 52°38'20"N

Longitude: -2.284 / 2°17'2"W

OS Eastings: 380877.219

OS Northings: 304635.156

OS Grid: SJ808046

Mapcode National: GBR 079.KCR

Mapcode Global: WH9DC.WXKN

Entry Name: Churchyard cross, St Cuthbert's Church

Scheduled Date: 23 December 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015301

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27574

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Donington

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Donington St Cuthbert

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield


The monument includes a standing stone cross located in the churchyard of St
Cuthbert's Church, Donington, c.8m south west of the south porch. The cross,
which is of 14th or 15th century date, takes the form of a base, socket stone
and shaft, surmounted by a post-medieval sundial, and is Listed Grade II*.
The cross is set on a low earthen mound and the base includes two steps of
square plan, the top one set directly onto the lower which is partly buried
within the mound. The steps have a width of 1.4m and stand c.0.3m above the
top of the mound. The socket stone is a single square block, with sides of
0.85m, and is 0.6m high. It has chamfered edges decorated with cable ornament,
with a grotesque face at each corner, a design similar to that on the cross
at Albrighton c.230m to the SSE (the subject of a separate scheduling). The
shaft has a square base with sides of 0.4m, and is broached to an octagonal
section. It stands 0.7m high, and supports a sundial dated 1709.
The grave markers to the east, south east and south west of the cross and the
metalled surface to the north 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 St Cuthbert's churchyard is a good example of a medieval cross
with a decorated socket stone. Limited activity 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.
While its base has survived from medieval times, the subsequent use of the
cross as a sundial illustrates its continued function as a public monument and

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cranage, DHS, Churches of Shropshire Volume 1, (1894), 45

Source: Historic England

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