Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross in St David's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Little Dewchurch, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 51.9822 / 51°58'55"N

Longitude: -2.6865 / 2°41'11"W

OS Eastings: 352944.8265

OS Northings: 231747.58

OS Grid: SO529317

Mapcode National: GBR FM.K873

Mapcode Global: VH862.DF2T

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St David's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017735

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29851

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Little Dewchurch

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Little Dewchurch with Ballingham

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes the remains of a medieval standing stone cross located
within the churchyard of St David's Church, approximately 6m to the south of
the porch. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, includes a base of three steps
and a socket stone, and the remains of the shaft.
The steps are square in plan and are constructed of large sandstone blocks,
similar to the stone utilised in the construction of the church, which are
built around a rubble core. The bottom step is about 2.44m square, the greater
part surviving to a height of 0.38m. The middle step measures about 1.85m
square by 0.17m high. The top step measures approximately 1.22m square by
0.20m high. The socket stone rests on the top step. It is square in plan, and
measures about 0.72m square by 0.55m high. The stone is fractured towards the
top edge which is bevelled to a smaller square, 0.6m wide. An ogee-headed
niche, cut in the western face of the socket stone, is thought to have held
the Pyx or Holy Water when Mass was celebrated at the cross, or alternatively
to hold a statue or icon. The remains of the shaft are mortised with lead into
the socket stone. The shaft is 0.23m square in plan at the base, rising
through chamfered corners to an octagonal section, and extending to a height
of 0.7m. The iron and lead rivets embedded in the top of the shaft may have
served as `dowels' for the attachment of an upper stone. The full height of
the cross is approximately 2m.
The gravestones to the south, east and west of the cross are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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 remains of the cross at St David's churchyard represent a good example of
a medieval standing cross, with a square stepped base and a socket stone with
a niche. Located near to the south porch of the church, and very close to the
pathways leading from the north and south entrances to the churchyard, it is
believed to stand in or near to its original position. The cross has not been
significantly restored, and has continued in use as a public monument from
medieval times up to the present day.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Marples, B, 'Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club' in The Niche in Medieval Churchyard Crosses, , Vol. 40, (1972), 328
RCHM, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments of Herefordshire, (1931)

Source: Historic England

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