Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross in St Swithin's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Barston, Solihull

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Latitude: 52.3996 / 52°23'58"N

Longitude: -1.6962 / 1°41'46"W

OS Eastings: 420767.094

OS Northings: 277998.181

OS Grid: SP207779

Mapcode National: GBR 4J9.HZG

Mapcode Global: VHBWV.KY4B

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Swithin's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 18 March 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017812

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30025

County: Solihull

Civil Parish: Barston

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Barston

Church of England Diocese: Birmingham


The monument includes the two steps, socket stone, shaft and head of a
standing cross of red sandstone. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is
located within the churchyard of St Swithin's Church, approximately 12m south
east of the east end of the church. It is of stepped form and principally
medieval in date with some later additions.
The steps are octagonal in plan. The bottom step measures 1.92m in width and
is 0.27m high, and is partly bonded to the foundations with mortar. The
top step measures 1.24m in width, and is 0.22m high. Both steps are chamfered
on their upper outside edge. The socket stone is octagonal and measures 0.75m
in width and 0.59m high, and is also chamfered on its upper outside edge. The
squared end of the shaft, measuring 0.3m by 0.3m, is morticed into the socket.
The shaft rises through chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section and
measures approximately 0.76m high. The remainder of the cross shaft and the
head are 19th century additions. The full height of the cross is over 2m.
The gravestones, where they fall within the cross's protective margin, 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 cross in St Swithin's churchyard is a good example of a medieval standing
cross with an octagonal stepped base and octagonal socket stone. Situated in a
prominent position close to the south east angle of the church, it is believed
to stand in its original position. Considerable remains survive from the
medieval period, whilst the subsequent restoration of the shaft and head
illustrates the continued function of the cross as a public monument and

Source: Historic England


Various SMR Officers, Unpublished notes in SMR files,

Source: Historic England

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