Ancient Monuments

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Congresbury village cross

A Scheduled Monument in Congresbury, North Somerset

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Latitude: 51.3706 / 51°22'14"N

Longitude: -2.8097 / 2°48'34"W

OS Eastings: 343732.929591

OS Northings: 163816.040418

OS Grid: ST437638

Mapcode National: GBR JF.SXN2

Mapcode Global: VH7CG.7TZ5

Entry Name: Congresbury village cross

Scheduled Date: 12 February 1925

Last Amended: 23 December 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015505

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28824

County: North Somerset

Civil Parish: Congresbury

Built-Up Area: Congresbury

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a cross situated at a crossroads in Congresbury, the
roads leading to Bristol, Weston-super-Mare, Paul's Causeway and Churchill.
The cross has a four step octagonal calvary, an octagonal plinth, square
socket stone, shaft and head. The first step of the calvary is 5m in diameter
and 0.2m high, with each side of the octagon measuring 2.1m. The step is
benched and has a deep drip. The second, third and fourth steps are each 0.4m
high, with octagonal sides measuring 1.75m, 1.4m and 1m respectively. Above
the fourth step is an octagonal plinth which is 0.3m high, and each side of
which is 0.7m long. This supports the square base of the socket stone which is
1.15m wide and 0.9m high with a central socket 0.4m square. Convex broaches at
the angles of the socket stone produce an octagonal top. The c.2.5m high shaft
has a square stopped base, and then tapers to a restored head comprising a
square block of stone with a ball on top.
The head of the cross was restored some time before the mid 19th century. The
rest of the cross is considered to be 15th century and is Listed Grade II*.
The cross is reputed to have two further calvary steps which were buried when
the level of the road was raised some time before the mid 19th century. The
remains of the buried calvary steps are included in the scheduling.
The tarmac and make up of the road around the cross is excluded from the
scheduling where this falls within its protective margin, but the ground
beneath 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.

Despite the head of the cross having been restored, Congresbury village
cross survives well in what is likely to be its original location. Its
position marks a crossroads which was likely to have been important in the
medieval period. This is one of two crosses in the village, the other being
in St Andrew's churchyard.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 125

Source: Historic England

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