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Standing medieval cross 10m south of the nave of St Mary's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Sandbach, Cheshire East

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.1434 / 53°8'36"N

Longitude: -2.3611 / 2°21'39"W

OS Eastings: 375944.779068

OS Northings: 360755.777731

OS Grid: SJ759607

Mapcode National: GBR 010.XJC

Mapcode Global: WH9B0.P8W1

Entry Name: Standing medieval cross 10m south of the nave of St Mary's Church

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016852

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30395

County: Cheshire East

Civil Parish: Sandbach

Built-Up Area: Sandbach

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Sandbach

Church of England Diocese: Chester

Details

The monument includes the base and part of the shaft of a medieval standing
cross in the churchyard of St Mary's Church. The cross is probably in its
original location, 10m south of the south wall of the nave.
The base is square, cut from a massive piece of gritstone, and formed into two
steps. The base measures 0.95m wide and 0.6m high with the step 0.7m wide.
The socle measures 0.45m by 0.4m. The shaft is almost square, rising to
octagonal at a point 0.1m from the cross base. The transition is effected by
four simple darts cut across the corners. The shaft is incomplete, measuring
1.32m high, cut level at the top to accommodate a sundial which has since lost
its gnomon. The shaft is made from a different, better quality stone, from
the base. This suggests that the base may have been made at an earlier date.
The gravestones laid down as a path to the north of the monument and graves,
including a table tomb, on the western side of the cross where they fall
within the cross's protective margin are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them 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 standing cross in the churchyard of St Mary's Church is an important
survival of a medieval cross in its original location on the southern side of
the church. The base of the cross is of a gritstone comparable to the stone
used in carving the late Anglo-Saxon cross shafts which lie beside the west
porch of the church and, therefore, it may be of a much earlier date than the
shaft presently set into the socket. This cross provides insights into the
liturgical and social functions of crosses during the medieval period. Its
conversion into a sundial may indicate a strong reaction locally to the
iconoclasts of the Reformation in Sandbach.

Source: Historic England

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