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Churchyard cross in St Mary the Virgin's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Much Cowarne, Herefordshire,

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.1211 / 52°7'16"N

Longitude: -2.5581 / 2°33'29"W

OS Eastings: 361881.90851

OS Northings: 247125.463859

OS Grid: SO618471

Mapcode National: GBR FS.8J2X

Mapcode Global: VH85C.LYZB

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Mary the Virgin's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016127

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29848

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Much Cowarne

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Much Cowarne

Church of England Diocese: Hereford

Details

The monument includes the remains of a medieval standing stone cross located
within the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin's Church, approximately 6m to the
south east of the church. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, includes a
rubble foundation, a base composed of a single step and socket stone and a
fragment of the shaft.
The cross stands on a rubble foundation which, on the south and west sides,
can be seen through the grass. The step is square in plan and made up of two
sandstone blocks, similar to those used in the construction of the church, and
measures 1.12m square by 0.26m high. The socket stone rests on the step and is
square to octagonal in plan. The stone, particularly on the south side, is
highly weathered; it measures 0.64m square by 0.44m high. The shaft is
mortised into the socket stone and bonded with lead. It measures 0.28m square,
and rises from a square section through chamfered corners to a tapering
octagonal section. Only a 1.39m section of the shaft remains. A number of iron
bolts embedded into the terminal of the shaft may either be indicative of the
sundial which was recorded in 1969 but no longer survives, or represent
`dowels' for joining the upper and lower parts of the shaft. The overall
height of the monument is 2.1m.
The gravemarker to the north of the cross is excluded from the scheduling
although the ground beneath it is included.

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 remains of the churchyard cross at St Mary the Virgin's represent a good
example of a medieval standing cross with a square stepped base, socket stone
and shaft. Situated close to the south east corner of the church, it is
believed to stand in or near to its original position. The cross has continued
in use as a public monument and amenity from medieval times until the present
day.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
OS, FKB, (1960)
RCHM, An Inventory of the Monuments of Herefordshire, (1932)

Source: Historic England

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