Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross in St Mary's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Almeley, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.1576 / 52°9'27"N

Longitude: -2.9765 / 2°58'35"W

OS Eastings: 333292.74

OS Northings: 251488.445

OS Grid: SO332514

Mapcode National: GBR F7.688W

Mapcode Global: VH77P.C199

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Mary's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 8 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016134

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29871

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Almeley

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Almeley

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the remains of a medieval standing stone cross located
approximately 6m to the south east of the chancel and 23m to the south east of
the south porch of St Mary's Church. The cross includes the base composed of a
stone plinth and a socket stone, the remains of the shaft and a later turned
oak terminal. The cross is Listed Grade II.

The plinth, which is made up of two sandstone slabs, measures 1.07m east-west
by 0.95m north-south on the west side and 0.78m north-south on the east side,
and 80mm deep. The socket stone rests on the base. It is square in plan with
simple inverted chamfers on the top four corners. It measures 0.71m square by
0.45m high. A keyhole-shaped depression has been cut into all four faces of
the socket stone. The remaining part of the shaft is mortised into the socket
stone and bonded with lead. It is octagonal in section and measures 0.28m in
diameter and 0.38m high. Attached to the top of the shaft is a 17th century
turned oak terminal; this has a diameter of 0.18m and a height of 0.32m. The
overall height of the monument is 1.48m.

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's represent a good example of
a medieval standing cross with a simple socket stone, and an octagonal shaft.
Located a short distance to the south east of the south porch, the cross is
believed to stand in or close to its original position. The addition of the
turned oak terminal in the 17th century demonstrates the continued function of
the cross as a public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Herefordshire 3, (1934), 5
1/2, Churchyard cross, Almeley CP,
Hope, JW, Churchyard cross, Almeley, (1997)

Source: Historic England

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