Ancient Monuments

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Medieval standing cross in The Square

A Scheduled Monument in Dunchurch, Warwickshire

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Latitude: 52.337 / 52°20'13"N

Longitude: -1.2899 / 1°17'23"W

OS Eastings: 448476.081203

OS Northings: 271228.51

OS Grid: SP484712

Mapcode National: GBR 7PL.JP7

Mapcode Global: VHCTX.LJF9

Entry Name: Medieval standing cross in The Square

Scheduled Date: 16 May 1951

Last Amended: 16 April 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016884

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30061

County: Warwickshire

Civil Parish: Dunchurch

Built-Up Area: Dunchurch

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Warwickshire

Church of England Parish: Dunchurch St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Coventry


The monument includes the foundations, four steps and shaft of a sandstone
standing cross, located in The Square, at the south west end of what was
formerly an extensive village green or small market place.
The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is of stepped form and principally
medieval in date with some later additions. The steps are octagonal in plan
and have been reduced by a bevel on the upper surface. Each step measures 0.2m
high and 0.3m deep. The base of the cross measures 3.2m in diameter, and the
cross is partially bonded with mortar. The shaft is morticed directly into the
top step and rises to a tapering octagonal section. The medieval cross shaft
survives up to a height of approximately 0.8m. The shaft of the cross has been
modified in the post-medieval period, including the addition of an extension
to the shaft in order to reuse the monument as a mile post. The medieval cross
shaft survives up to a height of approximately 0.8m. The extension rises from
a square block, chamfered at the corners, to a tapering octagonal obelisk. The
full height of the cross is over 3.2m. A stone panel including a relief
carving of a stag has been inserted into the east face of the obelisk. The
four faces of the square stone block are inscribed with the distances to
Oxford, Leicester, Hollyhead and London. Also carved into the faces of the
obelisk are further inscriptions.
All modern surfaces and street furniture, where they fall within the cross's
protective margin 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 standing cross in The Square at Dunchurch survives well and is believed to
stand at or near to its original position on the crossroads in the village
market place. During the medieval period the cross may have served a variety
of functions, acting both as a market cross and preaching place. Its survival
and reuse as a public monument and mile post in the late 19th century,
demonstrates its continued function as a local landmark and focus of village
activity. Subsequent restorations marking important dates of the 20th century
demonstrate its continuing importance.

Source: Historic England

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