Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross in St John the Baptist's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Weston Beggard, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.0678 / 52°4'4"N

Longitude: -2.6082 / 2°36'29"W

OS Eastings: 358402.408155

OS Northings: 241225.794001

OS Grid: SO584412

Mapcode National: GBR FQ.CX8C

Mapcode Global: VH85Q.Q9Z4

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

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016123

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29844

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Weston Beggard

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Weston Beggard

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the remains of a medieval standing stone cross located
within the churchyard of St John the Baptist's Church, approximately 8m to
the south east of the chancel and 12m to the south of the south porch. It
includes the base of three steps and a socket stone, the remains of the shaft,
and a bronze sundial which has been riveted to the top of the socket stone.
The cross is Listed Grade II.
The steps are square in plan and are constructed of large rectangular
sandstone blocks. The socket stone rests on the uppermost step. It is made up
of two stones. The bottom stone is square in section, although the upper
corners are chamfered to fit the octagonal shape of the stone above. A square,
bronze sundial, dated 1649, is attached to the surface of the upper stone on
the south side of the socket. Cut into the west face of the lower socket stone
is a simple roundheaded niche 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 has been cut down to lie flush with the surface of the socket stone.
It is square in plan, and is mortised into the socket and bonded with lead.
The overall height of the cross is 1.31m.
The gravestone abutting the cross on its north side 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 at St John the Baptist's is a good example
of a medieval standing cross with a square stepped base. Situated to the south
east of the south porch of the church, it is believed to stand in or near its
original position. While only the base of the cross has survived from medieval
times, the addition of the sundial in the 17th century demonstrates the
continued function of the cross as a public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hopton, M, The Crosses of Herefordshire, (1901)

Source: Historic England

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