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Cross base 25m south of the tower of the parochial chapel, in the old churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Melling, Sefton

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.4953 / 53°29'43"N

Longitude: -2.9226 / 2°55'21"W

OS Eastings: 338888.000002

OS Northings: 400239.406

OS Grid: SD388002

Mapcode National: GBR 8X10.1R

Mapcode Global: WH86W.2DJS

Entry Name: Cross base 25m south of the tower of the parochial chapel, in the old churchyard

Scheduled Date: 12 June 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015906

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27613

County: Sefton

Civil Parish: Melling

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Merseyside

Church of England Parish: Melling St Thomas

Church of England Diocese: Liverpool

Details

The monument includes a cross base in the old churchyard at Melling.
The base is carved from a single piece of local red sandstone in the form of a
truncated pyramid. It measures 0.45m square at the ground level and tapers to
0.35m at the top. It stands 0.16m high above a foundation block which is earth
fast.
This is a single block of sandstone 0.48m square. The shoulders at the
corners of the cross base have been chamfered with a slight hollow for
decoration. The socket hole is 0.17m square. The shaft and head are missing.
The form of the cross base appears to date from the 14th century or later.

MAP EXTRACT
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 base 25m south of the tower of the parochial chapel at Melling
survives well in spite of the loss of the shaft and head. The nature of the
decoration suggests that it was conceived as a base for a highly decorated
cross. This was probably a preaching station at a time when the parochial
chapel of ease was smaller than the population demanded.

Source: Historic England

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