Ancient Monuments

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Cross in St Michael's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Laxton and Moorhouse, Nottinghamshire

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Latitude: 53.1956 / 53°11'44"N

Longitude: -0.9207 / 0°55'14"W

OS Eastings: 472201.6142

OS Northings: 367048.3403

OS Grid: SK722670

Mapcode National: GBR BHM.N1J

Mapcode Global: WHFGV.TYR1

Entry Name: Cross in St Michael's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 23 February 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017744

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29919

County: Nottinghamshire

Civil Parish: Laxton and Moorhouse

Built-Up Area: Laxton

Traditional County: Nottinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Nottinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Laxton

Church of England Diocese: Southwell and Nottingham


The monument includes a standing stone cross located within the churchyard of
St Michaels Church, Laxton, approximately 12m south east of the south porch.
The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is of stepped form and is medieval in
date. It includes a base consisting of a plinth and one step, a socket stone,
a shaft and the remains of a moulded knop.
The step is square in plan and constructed of sandstone blocks resting on a
plinth which is 2m square. The socket stone stands on the step and is
approximately 0.75m square in plan and stands to a height of 0.28m. Set into
this socket stone is a 1.2m high stone shaft of square section at its base
with chamfered edges tapering upwards to a circular section. Surmounting the
shaft is a moulded knop to which the cross head would have originally been
attached but this is now missing. The surviving height of the cross and step
is 1.8m.
The two grave markers to the east 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 churchyard cross at Laxton is a good example of a medieval cross with a
square socket stone and a circular shaft. Situated near the south porch of the
church, it is believed to stand in or near its original position and limited
activity immediately surrounding the cross indicates that archaeological
deposits relating to the monument's construction and use are likely to survive
intact. The importance of the cross is enhanced by its continued use as a
public monument and amenity from the medieval period through to the present

Source: Historic England

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