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Churchyard cross in St John the Baptist and St Alkmund's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Aymestrey, Herefordshire,

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.2814 / 52°16'52"N

Longitude: -2.8433 / 2°50'35"W

OS Eastings: 342565.366405

OS Northings: 265135.949573

OS Grid: SO425651

Mapcode National: GBR BD.YJNX

Mapcode Global: VH76Z.NXQH

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St John the Baptist and St Alkmund's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 8 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016137

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29874

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Aymestrey

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Aymestrey with Leinthall Earles

Church of England Diocese: Hereford

Details

The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross, located within
the churchyard of St John the Baptist's and St Alkmund's Church,
approximately 23m to the east of the east tower which serves as the main
entrance to the church. The cross is medieval in date with later additions and
includes a base of five steps and a socket stone, a shaft, a knop and a
decorated finial with an iron pinnacle on top. It is Listed Grade II.

The steps are octagonal in plan. The five steps have diameters of 3.6m, 3m,
2.65m, 2m and 1.2m, and range in height from 0.21m to 0.31m. Each step is
composed of two layers of sandstone blocks mortared together. The socket stone
measures 0.64m square at the base and rises through chamfered corners to a
moulded octagonal section on the surface. The shaft is mortised into the
socket stone and bonded with lead. It is 0.2m square at the base, rising
through chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section. It extends to a
height of 2.4m. At the top of the shaft is an octagonal moulded capital,
approximately 0.12m high which supports a decorative crown-shaped finial.
Immediately above the finial is a small round stone supporting a five armed
iron pinnacle, which may represent the remains of a weather vane. The overall
height of the cross is approximately 5m.

The gravestone which stands immediately to the north east 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 John the Baptist and St Alkmund's
represents a good example of a medieval standing cross with an octagonal
stepped base, a square to octagonal socket stone and a shaft. Situated in a
prominent position between the main east entrance to the church and the
lychgate on the east boundary of the churchyard it is believed to stand in or
near to its original position. Whilst most of the cross has survived from
medieval times, its subsequent restoration has demonstrates its continued
function as a public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
RCHM, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Herefordshire, (1934)

Source: Historic England

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