Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross in Holy Rood churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Mordiford, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.0337 / 52°2'1"N

Longitude: -2.6274 / 2°37'38"W

OS Eastings: 357057.96604

OS Northings: 237439.174425

OS Grid: SO570374

Mapcode National: GBR FP.G4WM

Mapcode Global: VH85X.D4WT

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in Holy Rood churchyard

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016125

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29846

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Mordiford

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Mordiford

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes a standing stone cross located in the churchyard of Holy
Rood Church, approximately 7m to the south of the chancel and 15m from the
south entrance to the church. The cross is of stepped form, and is principally
medieval in date with some later additions. The monument includes the base of
three steps and a socket stone, the shaft, the knop and the head.
The steps are octagonal in plan and are constructed of large sandstone blocks.
The bottom step is approximately 2.48m in diameter, and rises 9mm above
ground level. The middle and top steps are 1.88m and 1.40m in diameter and
both 0.26m high. The socket stone rests on the uppermost step and is square to
octagonal in plan. It measures 0.82m in diameter and 0.68m high. An elaborate
niche has been cut into the western face of the socket stone. The niche has a
pointed head and is framed by a low relief carving depicting a pointed gable
above with eaves and a cylindrical ridge. 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 top of the socket stone and
bonded with lead. It is 0.27m square in section at the base rising through
chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section, and has a height of
approximately 4m. An octagonal knop joins the shaft to the head, which is
represented by a simple, open armed crucifix, and is thought to be the only
modern addition to the cross. The full height of the cross is approximately
The cross is Listed Grade II*.

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 Holy Rood churchyard is a good example of a medieval
standing cross with an octagonal stepped base and a square to octagonal socket
stone and shaft. Situated a short distance from the south entrance to the
church it is believed to stand in or near to its original position. While most
of the cross has survived from medieval times, subsequent restoration has
resulted in its continued function as a public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hopton, M, The Crosses of Herefordshire, (1901)
Marples, B, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club' in The Niche in Medieval Churchyard Crosses, , Vol. 40, (1972), 321-332
RCHM, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Herefordshire, (1932)

Source: Historic England

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