Ancient Monuments

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Cross in St Leonard's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Tortworth, South Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.6382 / 51°38'17"N

Longitude: -2.4286 / 2°25'42"W

OS Eastings: 370436.1085

OS Northings: 193349.5675

OS Grid: ST704933

Mapcode National: GBR JY.83T8

Mapcode Global: VH87Y.V3G0

Entry Name: Cross in St Leonard's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 18 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015511

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28831

County: South Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Tortworth

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Tortworth St Leonard

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester


The monument includes a restored cross situated in the churchyard, 8.7m north
of the north door of St Leonard's Church.
The cross, which is Listed Grade II*, has a square three step calvary, a
socket stone, a partly restored shaft surmounted by a decorated terminal and
restored cross head of intricate design. The calvary is built into the north
facing slope of the churchyard. The first step of the calvary is 2.8m wide and
0.2m high, the second step is 2.12m wide and 0.32m high, and the third step is
1.53m wide and 0.29m high. Above this is the square base of the socket stone.
The socket stone has deeply cut broaches at its angles with a fillet moulding
above, forming an octagonal top. The socket stone is 0.94m wide and 0.75m high
with a central socket 0.35m square and lead lined. The shaft, which is about
2.75m high is square at the bottom and stopped; it then tapers in octagonal
section to the restored terminal and cross head.
The calvary is constructed from stone blocks. The socket stone is hewn from
one piece of stone. These and the first 2m of the shaft have the appearance
of great age, but the top 0.75m of shaft and the terminal and head are a 19th
century restoration. The cross head and terminal replaced an earlier 19th
century four-sided capital and ball. The calvary, socket stone and original
part of the shaft are considered to date to the 14th century.

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 part of the shaft and the head of the cross have been replaced, the
cross in St Leonard's churchyard is an impressive monument of the medieval
period. It survives well in what is likely to be its original location.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pooley, C, Notes on the Old Crosses of Gloucestershire, (1868), 21-22

Source: Historic England

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