Ancient Monuments

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Standing cross in churchyard of St Barnabas, Bromborough, beside the porch

A Scheduled Monument in Bromborough, Wirral

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Latitude: 53.3327 / 53°19'57"N

Longitude: -2.9788 / 2°58'43"W

OS Eastings: 334913.636

OS Northings: 382205.445002

OS Grid: SJ349822

Mapcode National: GBR 7YMX.W0

Mapcode Global: WH87M.6HSD

Entry Name: Standing cross in churchyard of St Barnabas, Bromborough, beside the porch

Scheduled Date: 22 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015600

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27605

County: Wirral

Electoral Ward/Division: Bromborough

Built-Up Area: Bebington

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Merseyside

Church of England Parish: Bromborough St Barnabas

Church of England Diocese: Chester


The monument includes a standing cross in the churchyard of St Barnabas church
in Bromborough. The cross has been assembled from fragments found during the
demolition of the earlier church in 1863. For many years the fragments were
stored in the porch and were only recently restored. The cross was set up 1m
from the east wall of the south porch and 1.4m from the south wall. The pieces
appear to be all from the same Anglo-Saxon original and date from the 9th or
10th century.
The fragments are assembled on a modern base block of roughly dressed stone
set level with the ground. This measures 0.75m by 0.6m. The next stage is a
modern slab of red sandstone 0.32m by 0.15m wide and 0.73m high. Above this
are two fragments of a cross shaft of Anglo-Saxon design, correctly matched,
with a roll moulding running down the south west edge and interlace decoration
on the west and south faces. The east face is roughly dressed back for
insertion onto another building and the north face is roughly dressed to take
plaster on the surface of the stone. These two conjoined pieces measure 0.32m
by 0.14m wide and 0.63m high to a modern insertion to support a fragment of a
wheel head topped by a cap of modern stone to complete the design. The wheel
head shows a beaded moulding around the south face and is partly pierced for
the arms of the cross within the wheel. These arms project slightly beyond the
edge of the wheel. The central boss has been erased. The cross stands 1.9m
high in all.
The remains of seven other stones, which are not included in the scheduling,
from this period have been recorded. These have been incorporated in stone
walls and rockeries in the Rectory or have been lost. These remains point to
the site of the church having been an important ecclesiastical site during the
period immediately before the Conquest.

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.

The cross at Bromborough represents the remains of a cross which stood on or
near this site during the 9th or 10th century and was incorporated in the
fabric of a later stone church building on the site of the present church. The
cross points to an important ecclesiastical foundation of the late Anglo-Saxon
period. The remains survive in their present setting after their rescue in
1863 and 100 years of storage in the church porch. The restoration is
sensitive to the spirit of the original. The decoration of the surviving
carved pieces will provide important information about the monastic schools of
sculpture in the region as well as reflecting the piety of the early
Christians who commissioned the original work.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Anderson, A, The Great Cross of Bromborough, (1934), 14
Anderson, A, The Great Cross of Bromborough, (1934), 15

Source: Historic England

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