Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross in St John the Baptist's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Orcop, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 51.9323 / 51°55'56"N

Longitude: -2.7665 / 2°45'59"W

OS Eastings: 347391.545548

OS Northings: 226254.641717

OS Grid: SO473262

Mapcode National: GBR FJ.NDC7

Mapcode Global: VH867.0P9K

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St John the Baptist's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 11 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016112

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29854

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Orcop

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Orcop

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross located within the
churchyard of St John the Baptist's Church, approximately 7m to the south east
of the south porch. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is of stepped form
and is principally medieval in date. It includes a base of two steps and a
socket stone and the lower part of the shaft.

The steps are square in plan and constructed of rectangular sandstone blocks
around a rubble core. The bottom step measures 1.69m square by 0.2m high and
the top step measures 1.18m square by 0.22m high. The square socket stone
rests on the upper step; it measures 0.7m square by 0.49m high, and has a
weathered niche cut into its west face. The niche, which is ogee-headed, is
framed by a low relief carving depicting a pointed gable above (which is
surmounted by a cylindrical ridge), with eaves and walls to either side. The
niche is thought to have been carved to hold the Pyx or Holy Water when Mass
was celebrated at the cross, or to hold a statue or icon. The remaining part
of the shaft is mortised into the socket stone and bonded with lead. It is
0.26m square and rises through chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal
section. It stands to a height of 1.22m. The remains of iron and lead rivets,
on the top surface of the shaft, may represent `dowels' for attaching the
upper part of the shaft or a later sundial.

The gravestone immediately to the east of the monument is excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

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 remains of the churchyard cross in St John the Baptist's churchyard
represent a good example of a medieval standing cross with a stepped base.
Located near its original position beside the church porch it shows no
evidence of restoration and has continued in use as a public monument and
amenity from medieval times to the present day.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Coleman, D, Orcop, The story of a Herefordshire Village, (1992), 127
Hopton, M, The Crosses of Herefordshire, (1901)
Seaton, W B, History of the Deanery of Archenfield, (1903), 74
Marples, B, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club' in The Niche in Medieval Churchyard Crosses, , Vol. 40, (1972), 328-329

Source: Historic England

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