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Churchyard cross in St John the Baptist's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Rolleston, Leicestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.5965 / 52°35'47"N

Longitude: -0.9198 / 0°55'11"W

OS Eastings: 473261.249002

OS Northings: 300401.49

OS Grid: SK732004

Mapcode National: GBR BQZ.87Q

Mapcode Global: WHFKR.VZ5V

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St John the Baptist's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017493

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30230

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Rolleston

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Billesdon cum Goadby and Rolleston

Church of England Diocese: Leicester

Details

The monument includes a standing stone cross located within the churchyard of
St John Baptist's Church, 2m SSE of the church. The cross, which is Listed
Grade II and 17th century in date, includes a socket stone and a shaft.
The socket stone is approximately 0.9m square and 0.4m high with roll
mouldings at each corner. Set into the centre of the socket stone is a
chamfered stone shaft, about 3m high, of octagonal section with moulding stops
at the base. It is surmounted by a moulded capital with carved heads and other
ornaments. A short square shaft supports the lower part of a florated cross
head. The full surviving height of the cross is approximately 4.1m. The cross
is depicted in some detail in an engraving dated to 1791 and mentioned in a
contemporary document.

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 in St John the Baptist's churchyard represents a good
example of a post-medieval standing cross marking a graveyard. Situated to the
SSE of the church, it is believed to stand in or near its original position.
Limited activity in the area immediately surrounding the cross indicates that
archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction in this
location will survive intact. The cross has not been restored, and has
continued in use as a monument and amenity from post-medieval times to the
present day.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, (1805)
Other
Leicestershire County Council, 70 SW.AE,
Listing Report: SK 70 SW - 1/93,
RCHME, NMR Long Report: SK 70 SW 7,

Source: Historic England

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