Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross base in St John the Baptist's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Blisworth, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.1745 / 52°10'28"N

Longitude: -0.9408 / 0°56'27"W

OS Eastings: 472525.456

OS Northings: 253439.417

OS Grid: SP725534

Mapcode National: GBR BWZ.NXV

Mapcode Global: VHDSB.MLZX

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

Scheduled Date: 16 January 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016306

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27920

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Blisworth

Built-Up Area: Blisworth

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Blisworth St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross located within the
churchyard of St John the Baptist's Church, Blisworth, approximately 16m north
of the north porch. The cross is believed to be late-16th century in date. It
includes a cross base consisting of three steps, and a socket stone, and
stands to a surviving height of about 1.73m.
The steps are constructed of sandstone blocks around a rubble core and are
square in plan, reducing from 2.3m to 1.25m across. The lowest step is
built in two courses while the upper steps have a single course each. The
socket stone is similarly constructed and is some 0.86m square. The structure
is apparently unmortared and is bonded with iron cramps.
The made surface of the pathway to the east of the cross is excluded from the
scheduling although the ground beneath it is included. The grave marker to
the north of the cross is totally excluded from the scheduling.

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 Blisworth are a good example of a 16th
century stepped cross which, situated close to the entrance to the churchyard,
is believed to be in or near its original position. Limited activity
immediately surrounding the cross indicates that archaeological deposits
relating to its construction and use are likely to survive intact. The
monument's current function as a visual focus perpetuates its long standing
significance as a public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'History of the County of Northampton' in History of the County of Northampton, , Vol. IV, (), 227

Source: Historic England

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