Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross 5.6m south east of the porch of St Martin's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Fiddington, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.1591 / 51°9'32"N

Longitude: -3.1228 / 3°7'22"W

OS Eastings: 321577.899899

OS Northings: 140581.008282

OS Grid: ST215405

Mapcode National: GBR M0.78P5

Mapcode Global: VH6GZ.T4G8

Entry Name: Churchyard cross 5.6m south east of the porch of St Martin's Church

Scheduled Date: 23 October 1954

Last Amended: 18 November 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015453

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28818

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Fiddington

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a cross situated in the churchyard at Fiddington, 5.6m
south east of the church porch.
The cross has a circular three step calvary, a socket stone and shaft. Each
step of the calvary is 0.3m high. The first has a diameter 2.6m, the second
and third steps have diameters of 1.7m and 1.25m respectively. On the top step
is a square socket stone with broaches at its angles, forming an octagonal
top. It is 0.8m wide and 0.5m high. The central socket is 0.3m square in which
sits the c.1.7m high shaft, square at the bottom, tapering to its top. On the
east face of the shaft are indications of a figure in a canopied niche. The
cross is Listed Grade II*.
The calvary is constructed from stone blocks. The socket stone is hewn from
one piece of stone. The cross is considered to be early 14th century in date.

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.

Despite the cross head being missing, the standing cross in the churchyard at
Fiddington is visually impressive and survives well in what is likely to be
its original location. The medieval cross relates to the Church of St Martin,
which has a medieval west tower.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 132

Source: Historic England

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