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Churchyard cross in St Mary the Virgin's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Burghill, Herefordshire,

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.0961 / 52°5'45"N

Longitude: -2.7613 / 2°45'40"W

OS Eastings: 347946.408711

OS Northings: 244467.74562

OS Grid: SO479444

Mapcode National: GBR FJ.B1PD

Mapcode Global: VH85G.3K2Z

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Mary the Virgin's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016343

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29882

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Burghill

Built-Up Area: Burghill

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Burghill

Church of England Diocese: Hereford

Details

The monument includes a standing stone cross located within the churchyard of
St Mary the Virgin's Church, approximately 21m to the south east of the
chancel and 25m to the south east of the south porch. 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, the knop and the head.
The base is square in plan and is constructed from large sandstone blocks. The
bottom step measures 2.7m square. The socket stone rests on the uppermost
step, it is square in plan with inverted chamfers at the top four corners and
an octagonal top, and measures 0.82m square by 0.52m high. A trefoil-headed
niche is cut into the west face of the socket stone 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 to the
socket stone. This is octagonal in section with moulding towards the bottom,
and tapers upwards to a moulded octagonal knop. The knop supports a modern
head which takes the form of an open-armed crucifix displaying elaborate
foliate decoration. The full height of the cross is approximately 4.6m.

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 churchyard cross at St Mary the Virgin's Church represents a good example
of a medieval standing cross with a square stepped base. Situated a short
distance to the south east of the south porch, it is believed to stand in or
near to its original position. Whilst much of the cross has survived from
medieval times, subsequent restoration has enhanced its appearance and
resulted in its continued function as a public monument and amenity.

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, (1932)

Source: Historic England

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