Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross in St Bartholomew's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Holmer & Shelwick, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.0776 / 52°4'39"N

Longitude: -2.723 / 2°43'22"W

OS Eastings: 350543.931562

OS Northings: 242388.165822

OS Grid: SO505423

Mapcode National: GBR FK.CC5W

Mapcode Global: VH85N.R19M

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Bartholomew's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016345

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29884

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Holmer & Shelwick

Built-Up Area: Hereford

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Holmer with Huntington

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes a standing stone cross located within the churchyard of
St Bartholomew's Church, approximately 5m to the south east of the bell tower
and 20m to the south east of the south porch. The cross, which is Listed Grade
II, is medieval with later additions. It includes a base, composed of four
steps and a socket stone, and a modern shaft and head carved from a single
piece of stone.
The base is square in plan and is constructed from large sandstone blocks. The
bottom step measures 2.95m square. The socket stone, which rests on the top
step, is square in plan with an octagonal upper surface, the top four corners
moulded in the form of inverted chamfers decorated with ball flower
ornaments. It measures 0.68m square by 0.49m high. A trefoil headed 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 0.24m square at the base and rises through
chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section. It extends upwards into the
open armed cross head with foliate decoration. The height of the shaft and
head is 2.44m. The overall height of the cross is approximately 4.79m.
The gravemarkers immediately to the north, east, south east and west of the
cross, and the pathway to the south, are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath these features is included.

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 Bartholomew'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


Books and journals
Marples, B, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club' in The Niche in Medieval Churchyard Crosses, , Vol. 40, (1972), 321-332
RCHM, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Herefordshire, (1932)

Source: Historic England

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