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Churchyard cross in St Michael's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Dundry, North Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.3991 / 51°23'56"N

Longitude: -2.6376 / 2°38'15"W

OS Eastings: 355736.075025

OS Northings: 166868.988562

OS Grid: ST557668

Mapcode National: GBR JN.R574

Mapcode Global: VH890.73F8

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Michael's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 18 January 1977

Last Amended: 23 December 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015512

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28834

County: North Somerset

Civil Parish: Dundry

Built-Up Area: Dundry

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Details

The monument includes a cross situated in the churchyard at Dundry 6m north
west of the west porch of the church.

The cross has a four step octagonal calvary, an octagonal plinth, a socket
stone and shaft with an ornamental crocketed finial. The first step of the
calvary is 5m in diameter and 0.55m high. Each side of its octagon is 2m wide.
The second and third steps are 0.35m high, and the fourth step is 0.33m high.
The width of the octagonal sides of the second, third and fourth steps are
1.6m, 1.3m and 1m respectively. The first step has moulding on its upper and
lower beds, that on the upper projects to produce a bench-like effect. Above
the fourth step of the calvary is an octagonal plinth 1.7m in diameter and
0.35m high. Each side of its octagon is 0.7m wide, and the faces of the plinth
are parallel to those of the calvary, with a decoration of triangles on the
angles. Alternate triangles have dowl holes in their upper surface. The socket
stone has a square base 1.15m in diameter and 0.95m high. There are four
square shafts at the angles with projecting bases and caps, forming an
octagonal upper bed. Each face of the socket stone has a recessed decoration
of a pair of trefoil headed arches. The lead lined central socket is 0.45m
square in which sits the shaft which is c.3m high. The shaft is square at its
base, but then stopped and continues in octagonal form as it tapers to the
cross head. The decoration on the cross head is a copy of that on the socket
stone with shafts at its corners and pairs of arches on its faces. Above this
is a crocketed top.

The calvary is constructed from stone blocks and mortared flagstones. The
socket stone is hewn from one piece of stone. The ornamental cross head is a
19th century replacement for its original canopied head. The cross is
considered to date to the 15th century.

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.

The standing cross in St Michael's churchyard survives well as a visually
impressive monument of the medieval period in what is likely to be its
original location. The medieval cross relates to the 15th century tower of the
Church of St Michael.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 60-62

Source: Historic England

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