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Standing cross 30m south of the tower of the parochial chapel, in the old churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Melling, Sefton

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.4952 / 53°29'42"N

Longitude: -2.9226 / 2°55'21"W

OS Eastings: 338889.432113

OS Northings: 400232.098638

OS Grid: SD388002

Mapcode National: GBR 8X10.1S

Mapcode Global: WH86W.2DKV

Entry Name: Standing cross 30m south of the tower of the parochial chapel, in the old churchyard

Scheduled Date: 12 June 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017532

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27612

County: Sefton

Civil Parish: Melling

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Merseyside

Church of England Parish: Melling St Thomas

Church of England Diocese: Liverpool

Details

The monument includes a base for a medieval standing cross in the old
churchyard of the parochial chapel at Melling. The original shaft has been
replaced in the early 18th century by a pillar to support a sundial.
The base is a single block of local red sandstone and measures 0.79m by 0.85m
and stands 0.23m above the ground. A socket hole is cut into the centre of
this block measuring 0.35m square. Into this a stone pillar has been fitted.
This is carved from one piece and is square at the base surmounted by a simple
fluted column on a circular roll moulding rising to a roll moulding and square
capstone on which is a brass sundial with the gnomon missing. The pillar is
1.32m high.
There has been a church at this site since AD 1161 and this cross base
probably precedes the present church building by 500 years.
The cross base and sundial is Listed Grade II.
Gravestones and churchyard furniture are excluded from this scheduling but the
ground beneath 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 30m south of the parochial chapel at Melling survives as a
well preserved base with the shaft replaced by a sundial. It is at or very
near to its original location and dates to the medieval period. There has been
a church on this site since AD 1161 and this carved stone may have been placed
here at the original dedication.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Merseyside SMR,

Source: Historic England

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