Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross in St Michael's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Sollers Hope, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 51.9951 / 51°59'42"N

Longitude: -2.5655 / 2°33'55"W

OS Eastings: 361266.717336

OS Northings: 233108.680353

OS Grid: SO612331

Mapcode National: GBR FS.JG72

Mapcode Global: VH864.H32X

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Michael's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016126

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29847

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Sollers Hope

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Sollershope

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes a standing stone cross located within the churchyard of
St Michael's Church, approximately 7m to the south east of the chancel and
20m to the south east of the south porch. The cross is medieval in origin with
modern additions. It includes the base, composed of two steps and a socket
stone, the shaft and the head. The upper segment of the shaft and the head are
both modern.
The steps are square in plan and are constructed of large sandstone blocks.
The socket stone rests on the uppermost step and is square to octagonal in
plan. It measures 0.75m in diameter by 0.64m in height. A simple pointed
niche, 0.37m high by 0.16m wide by 0.1m deep, has been cut into the west
face; 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 lead and modern mortar. The
lower 0.65m of the shaft is original, with the upper part being a modern
addition. It is square to octagonal in plan, and tapers to an octagonal
capital with foliate decoration. The modern head takes the form of a simple
A commemorative bronze plaque on the east face of the socket stone states that
the cross was restored in memory of `the men of the parish who gave their
lives in the First World War'. 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 at St Michael's is a good example of a medieval standing
cross with a square stepped base. Situated close to the south east corner of
the church, it is believed to stand in or near to its original position.
Whilst most of the cross has survived from medieval times, subsequent
restoration has enhanced its appearance and resulted in its continual function
as a public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England


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

Source: Historic England

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