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Queen Charlton village cross

A Scheduled Monument in Compton Dando, Bath and North East Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4014 / 51°24'4"N

Longitude: -2.5272 / 2°31'38"W

OS Eastings: 363418.200003

OS Northings: 167057.335001

OS Grid: ST634670

Mapcode National: GBR JT.QWJJ

Mapcode Global: VH892.41SJ

Entry Name: Queen Charlton village cross

Scheduled Date: 2 November 1954

Last Amended: 23 December 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015510

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28830

County: Bath and North East Somerset

Civil Parish: Compton Dando

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Details

The monument includes a restored cross situated on the village green at the
centre of the village of Queen Charlton where four roads meet.

The cross has a five step square calvary, socket stone, plinth, shaft and
simple Latin cross head. The first step of the calvary is 0.3m high, and the
second, third, fourth and fifth steps are 0.4m, 0.3m, 0.35m and 0.27m high.
The first step is 3.4m wide. The width of the second, third, fourth and fifth
steps are 2.8m, 2.15m, 1.6m and 1.1m respectively. Above the fifth step of the
calvary is the square base of the plinth which supports the socket stone. The
plinth is 0.75m wide, c.0.5m high and composed of two courses of faced stone
blocks. The socket stone sits flush on the plinth and has convex broaches at
its angles forming an octagonal top. It is 0.75m wide and the total height of
plinth and socket stone is 0.9m. The central socket is 0.35m square in which
is cemented the 0.3m wide base of the octagonal shaft. The shaft is c.2m high,
jointed in the middle, and tapers to a simple Latin cross head.

The calvary is constructed from stone blocks which appear to be of
considerable age, as is the socket stone. The plinth, shaft and cross head are
later additions. The cross previously stood at a crossroads c.300m to the
south west, where it is still recorded on OS plans, and was moved some time
after 1868 to its present position. It is reputed that its present position,
on the village green, was its original position prior to the 19th century.
While at the crossroads, it had a square stone cross head and a plinth
composed of courses of brickwork. The cross now stands on a slight rise,
c.0.1m high, which extends to 0.4m around the calvary base. This mound is
included in the scheduling and will be associated with the cross either
denoting ground disturbance during construction, or will be related to the
reconstruction of the cross. The cross is considered to date to the 15th
century and is Listed Grade II.

In the south west corner of the churchyard, c.50m to the south, reused at some
time as a gatepost, is the socket and part of the shaft of a second cross.

MAP EXTRACT
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 the shaft, head and plinth have been restored, the village cross at
Queen Charlton survives well with a number of its original elements intact as
an impressive monument of the medieval period. In the last century it was
moved a short distance, reputedly returning it to its original position on the
village green.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 142

Source: Historic England

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