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Churchyard cross in St George's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Orleton, Herefordshire,

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.3002 / 52°18'0"N

Longitude: -2.7429 / 2°44'34"W

OS Eastings: 349435.592417

OS Northings: 267155.952206

OS Grid: SO494671

Mapcode National: GBR BJ.XCD5

Mapcode Global: VH84H.DGS0

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St George's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016335

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29886

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Orleton

Built-Up Area: Orleton

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Orleton

Church of England Diocese: Hereford

Details

The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross located within the
churchyard of St George's Church, approximately 8m south of a blocked doorway
in the nave. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is medieval in date with
later additions. It includes a base composed of four steps and a socket stone,
the shaft and the knop.
The base is octagonal in plan and is constructed from large sandstone blocks.
The bottom step measures 3.5m in diameter and the steps rise to a height of
1.03m. The socket stone rests on the uppermost step, it is square in plan at
the bottom, rising through low rounded chamfered corners to an octagonal top.
It measures 0.88m square by 0.56m high. A pointed niche cut into the west face
of the socket stone 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
shaft is mortised into the socket stone and bonded with lead and pink mortar.
It measures 0.28m square at the base, rising through chamfered corners in a
tapering octagonal section to a height of 2.13m. The shaft is heavily
weathered on its eastern side. At the top of the shaft is the knop, which
takes the form of a square capital, with a truncated pyramid above. An iron
`dowel', probably for attaching the cross head, extends from the top of the
knop. The overall height of the cross is approximately 4.32m.
The gravemarkers immediately to the east and west of the cross are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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 George's Church represent a good
example of a medieval standing cross with an octagonal stepped base. Situated
to the south of a former entrance to the nave, it is believed to stand in or
near to its original position. The cross has not been significantly restored
and has continued in use as a public monument and amenity from medieval times
until the present day.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Marples, B, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club' in The Niche in Medieval Churchyard Crosses, , Vol. 40, (1972), 321-332
Other
RCHM, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Herefordshire, (1934)

Source: Historic England

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