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Cross in St Mary's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Kingswinford North and Wall Heath, Dudley

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Latitude: 52.5013 / 52°30'4"N

Longitude: -2.1579 / 2°9'28"W

OS Eastings: 389376.644727

OS Northings: 289281.34

OS Grid: SO893892

Mapcode National: GBR 45J.SQ

Mapcode Global: VH919.KD1B

Entry Name: Cross in St Mary's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 16 April 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016434

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30037

County: Dudley

Electoral Ward/Division: Kingswinford North and Wall Heath

Built-Up Area: Kingswinford

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Kingswinford St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Worcester


The monument includes the foundations, three steps, socket stone, shaft, knop
and lantern head of a standing cross of sandstone, located in the churchyard
of St Mary's Church, approximately 7m south west of the east end of the
church. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is of stepped form and
principally medieval in date with some later additions.
The steps are square in plan. The bottom step measures 3.26m wide, and is
at least 27cm high. The south east corner of the bottom step was cut through
when the path was constructed. The step is partially bonded to the foundations
with mortar. The middle step measures 2.64m wide, and is at least 28cm high.
The top step measures 1.95m wide, and is at least 19cm high. The socket stone
is square chamfered to octagonal, measuring 1.16m wide and is at least 0.56m
high. The socket stone is chamfered on its upper outside edge and bears a
weathered shield with a cross motif carved in relief on its western face. The
squared end of the shaft measures 0.40m wide and is morticed into the socket.
The shaft rises through chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section. The
medieval cross shaft survives to a height of approximately 2.45m. The
remainder of the cross, the knop and the lantern head are later additions,
although they may also be medieval in date. The lantern measures 0.4m square
and is 0.5m high. The full height of the cross is over 3m.
The gravestones and path where they fall within the monument's protective
margin are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 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 cross in St Mary's churchyard is a good example of a medieval standing
cross with a square stepped base and square socket stone. Situated in a
prominent position close to the south entrance to the church, it is believed
to stand in or near its original position. The majority of the cross survives
from the medieval period, and the subsequent restoration of the lantern head
illustrates the continued function of the cross as a public monument.

Source: Historic England

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