Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross in St Michael's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Dewsall, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 51.9974 / 51°59'50"N

Longitude: -2.7498 / 2°44'59"W

OS Eastings: 348615.683316

OS Northings: 233483.698405

OS Grid: SO486334

Mapcode National: GBR FJ.JBJ3

Mapcode Global: VH861.9243

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Michael's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016130

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29852

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Dewsall

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Dewsall with Callow

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross located within the
churchyard of St Michael's Church, approximately 5m to the south east of the
porch. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is of stepped form and is medieval
in date. It includes a base of two steps and a socket stone, and the remains
of the shaft.
The steps are square in plan and constructed of rectangular sandstone blocks.
The bottom step measures 1.75m square and the top step 1.21m square. The
socket stone is square in plan, with the top corners bevelled to form an
irregular octagon. It measures 0.67m square by 0.56m high. The underside of
the stone is uneven. Cut into the west face of the socket stone is a
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. A square
shaped socket hole exists on the upper surface of the socket stone. It
measures 0.23m square by at least 0.19m deep. This would originally have held
the shaft and now holds a shaft fragment over 0.51m long and 0.15m in
diameter, and octagonal in section. This is thought to represent a middle
section of the original cross shaft. The height of the base is 0.98m.
The surface of the pathway to the south west of the cross 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 Michael's represent a good example
of a medieval standing cross with a square stepped base and a socket stone
with a niche in its western face. Located immediately to the south of the
church, it is believed to stand in or near its original position. The cross
shows no evidence of restoration and has continued in use as a public monument
and amenity from medieval times up to the present day.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Marples, B, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club' in The Niche in Medieval Churchyard Crosses, (1972), 327
RCHM, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Herefordshire, (1931)

Source: Historic England

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