Ancient Monuments

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Ravenspurn cross

A Scheduled Monument in Hedon, East Riding of Yorkshire

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Latitude: 53.7414 / 53°44'28"N

Longitude: -0.1967 / 0°11'48"W

OS Eastings: 519030.489233

OS Northings: 428731.156837

OS Grid: TA190287

Mapcode National: GBR WT25.6K

Mapcode Global: WHHGY.Y7H3

Entry Name: Ravenspurn cross

Scheduled Date: 5 October 1954

Last Amended: 4 March 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015313

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26613

County: East Riding of Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Hedon

Built-Up Area: Hedon

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Riding of Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Hedon St Augustine

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes an early 15th century cross standing on an octagonal
buttressed base set on a four-tiered plinth.
The sandstone octagonal cross shaft is about 0.35m square and survives to a
height of nearly 3m overall. The cross shaft has two small male figures
depicted upon it.
The very eroded head of the cross is of celtic shape and has three figures in
a scene thought to depict the crucifixion on one side, and on the other a
scene which it is not possible to decipher, as the stone is very weathered,
however, below it, it is possible to distinguish two apolocalyptical animal or
bird figures. The base into which it is set is octagonal, measuring
approximately 0.75m square and 0.7m high. The bottom step of the four-tiered
plinth is about 3m square, and the succeeding levels each progressively reduce
in size to the fourth and uppermost which is 1.5m square, upon which the
octagonal cross base is set. Each step is approximately 0.3m in height.
The cross was removed from its original position at Ravenspurn to save it from
falling into the sea and is Grade II* Listed.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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.

Although not in its original position, the Ravenspurn cross is considered to
be a good example of a 15th century cross which survives in quite good

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
AM 7
Bastow, Dr Margaret, AM 107, (1985)

Source: Historic England

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