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Churchyard cross base in St Michael's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Upton, Northamptonshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.2355 / 52°14'7"N

Longitude: -0.9507 / 0°57'2"W

OS Eastings: 471751.187502

OS Northings: 260216.125002

OS Grid: SP717602

Mapcode National: GBR BW6.SK1

Mapcode Global: VHDS4.G2RM

Entry Name: Churchyard cross base in St Michael's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 10 June 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016307

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27923

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Upton

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Duston St Luke

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough

Details

The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross located within the
churchyard of St Michael's Church, Upton, approximately 2.5m south east of the
south porch. The cross remains include a base consisting of three steps and a
socket stone and are thought to be medieval in origin.
The cross base is square in plan, constructed from large stone blocks around a
rubble core, and the steps decrease in size from about 1.7m square to 1.07m
square. The socket stone is 0.84m by 0.93m with a central square socket
measuring 0.27m across. The surviving height of the base and socket stone is
approximately 0.8m.
The two grave markers to the north of the cross are totally excluded from the
scheduling.

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 Upton are a good example of a medieval
stepped cross. Situated near the south porch of the church, the cross is
believed to stand in or near its original position and limited activity in the
immediately surrounding area indicates that archaeological deposits relating
to the monument's construction and use are likely to survive intact. The cross
is a significant visual feature, continuing in use as a public monument and
amenity from the medieval period through to the present day.

Source: Historic England

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