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Churchyard cross in St Peter's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Whatcote, Warwickshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.0982 / 52°5'53"N

Longitude: -1.5652 / 1°33'54"W

OS Eastings: 429878.714003

OS Northings: 244519.759501

OS Grid: SP298445

Mapcode National: GBR 5PH.F3G

Mapcode Global: VHBYG.TJDC

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Peter's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 16 January 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017762

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21631

County: Warwickshire

Civil Parish: Whatcote

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Warwickshire

Church of England Parish: Whatcote St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Coventry

Details

The monument includes a standing stone cross located within the churchyard of
St Peter's Church, Whatcote, approximately 10m south east of the south porch.
The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is of stepped form and is believed to be
14th century in origin. It includes a base, consisting of a plinth and two
steps, a socket stone, a shaft and an 18th century ornamental head.
The steps are octagonal in plan and on the uppermost step stands the socket
stone which is also octagonal in section. Set into the centre of the socket
stone is a stone shaft, 2.45m high, which is surmounted by a cube-like sundial
and a ball finial that are believed to date from an 18th century restoration
of the cross.
The grave marker to the east of the cross is excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground below this feature 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 churchyard cross at Whatcote is a good example of a medieval standing
cross marking a graveyard. Situated to the south east of the south porch, 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 are likely to survive
intact. While much of the cross survives from medieval times, subsequent
restoration illustrates its continued use as a public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England

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