Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross in St Michael's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Knill, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.2376 / 52°14'15"N

Longitude: -3.0394 / 3°2'21"W

OS Eastings: 329118.39595

OS Northings: 260448.246163

OS Grid: SO291604

Mapcode National: GBR F4.14QV

Mapcode Global: VH778.80KY

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Michael's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 8 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016136

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29873

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Knill

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Knill

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes a standing stone cross, located within the churchyard of
St Michael's Church, approximately 4m to the south east of the south porch.
The cross is medieval in date with later additions and includes a base of
three steps and a socket stone, a shaft, a tabernacle head, a finial and a
small crucifix. The cross is Listed Grade II.

The steps are rectangular in plan and are constructed of sandstone blocks,
similar to those used to build the church. The top corners of each step
display decorative chamfers. The rectangular socket stone measures 0.64m
north-south by 0.72m east-west and 0.39m high, and has the same decorative
chamfers on the top four corners, as displayed on the steps. A trefoil-headed
niche is cut into the west face of the socket stone. It measures 0.38m high,
0.16m wide and 60mm deep, and 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 modern shaft is mortared onto the socket stone. It is square at the
base, rising through chamfered corners to an octagonal section, and then to a
circular section. It extends to a height of 1.7m, and tapers from 0.3m square
at the base to 0.2m in diameter at the top. Attached with mortar to the top of
the shaft is a rectangular tabernacle head, thought to be original, with
shallow ogee-headed niches cut into the north, south and west faces, and a
deeper rectangular shaped niche cut into the east face. The head measures
0.39m east-west by 0.27m north-south and 0.47m high. A separate finial stone,
mortared to the top of the head, takes the shape of a gabled roof, and acts as
a platform for the small, modern, ring-headed crucifix. The overall height of
the cross is approximately 3.66m.

The pathway, which abuts the south west corner 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 churchyard cross at St Michael's is a good example of a medieval standing
cross with a stepped base, a socket stone with a niche and a tabernacle head.
Situated close to the south porch of the church it is believed to stand in or
near to its original position. Whilst the steps, socket stone and shaft have
survived from medieval times, the subsequent restoration of the cross with the
re-introduction of the probable original tabernacle head and the addition of a
modern crucifix, illustrates the continued function of the cross 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
Watkins, A, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club' in Herefordshire Churchyard Crosses, (1916), 117
RCHM, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Herefordshire, (1934)

Source: Historic England

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