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Churchyard cross in St Dubricius's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Whitchurch, Herefordshire,

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.8541 / 51°51'14"N

Longitude: -2.6458 / 2°38'44"W

OS Eastings: 355616.242561

OS Northings: 217480.942176

OS Grid: SO556174

Mapcode National: GBR FP.T6BW

Mapcode Global: VH86P.3N4G

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Dubricius's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 11 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016116

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29860

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Whitchurch

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Whitchurch

Church of England Diocese: Hereford

Details

The monument includes a standing stone cross, located within the churchyard of
St Dubricius's Church, approximately 4m to the south of the porch. The cross,
which is Listed Grade II*, is of stepped form and includes a base of four
steps and a socket stone which are medieval in date, and the shaft, the knop
and the head, which are later additions.

The steps are circular in plan and are constructed of pink sandstone blocks.
Immediately to the east of the bottom step, the remains of a lower step or
foundation are visible. The socket stone is 0.68m high and mortared to the top
step. It is circular in plan at the base, with a diameter of 0.9m, and is
reduced by a bevel to a smaller circle, with a diameter of 0.7m. A large
pointed niche cut into the west face of the socket stone is topped by a gabled
roof, carved in low relief and flanked by slight ridges which extend to the
base of the socket stone. The niche measures 0.4m high, 0.31m wide, 0.1m deep
and is set 0.15m above the base of the socket stone. It 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 shaft is mortised into the socket
stone and bonded with mortar. It is 0.27m square at the base, reduced by a
bevel to a smaller square and then by chamfered corners to an octagon. The
shaft extends to a height of 1.7m, and is decorated with five quatrefoil
florets on each of the four chamfered edges. The octagonal knop is elaborate
and 0.2m high. It serves as a platform for the elaborate west-facing, ring-
headed crucifix with foliate terminals. The shaft, knop and head are all
modern additions. The overall height of the cross is approximately 3.9m.

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 churchyard cross in St Dubricius's churchyard is a good example of a
medieval standing cross with a stepped base and a socket stone with a niche.
Situated close to the south porch of the church it is believed to stand in or
near to its original position. Whilst only the base and socket stone have
survived from medieval times, the subsequent restoration of the shaft and the
head illustrates the continued function of the cross as a public monument and
amenity.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Marples, B, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club' in The Niche in Medieval Churchyard Crosses, , Vol. 40, (1972), 330
Other
RCHM, An Inventory of the Monuments of Herefordshire, (1931)

Source: Historic England

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