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Cross in St John the Baptist's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Halesowen South, Dudley

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.45 / 52°26'59"N

Longitude: -2.0506 / 2°3'2"W

OS Eastings: 396657.375002

OS Northings: 283559.500002

OS Grid: SO966835

Mapcode National: GBR 2DL.BD0

Mapcode Global: VH9Z0.DPS6

Entry Name: Cross in St John the Baptist's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 10 June 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018066

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30034

County: Dudley

Electoral Ward/Division: Halesowen South

Built-Up Area: Halesowen

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Halas

Church of England Diocese: Worcester

Details

The monument includes a standing cross of red sandstone, which is Listed Grade
II, and located within the churchyard of St John the Baptist's Church,
approximately 15.5m south east of the south east angle of the church. Although
located within the churchyard the cross is also near the centre of Halesowen
High Street, and may have additionally acted as a market cross.

The cross is of stepped form, and is principally medieval in date with some
later additions including steps, a socket stone, a shaft, knop and head. The
step is square in plan measuring 1.5m square, and is at least 0.5m high. It is
bevelled on its upper surface, and is partially bonded with mortar. The socket
stone measures 1.1m square, is at least 0.6m high and chamfered on its upper
corners. The end of the shaft measures 0.37m square, and is morticed into the
socket. It rises through chamfered corners to a column with an octagonal knop.
The medieval head of the cross has been replaced with a ball finial which has
an iron cross head set upon it. The full height of the cross is over 3.5m.

The cross is stabilized by an iron cage and ties. These and the path where it
falls within the area of the monument are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them 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 cross in St John the Baptist's churchyard is principally medieval in date,
and its position within the churchyard, close to the centre of the High
Street, indicates that it may have served both religious and secular functions
associated with preaching and with the market which was held adjacent to it.
Its later alteration including the addition of the ball finial indicates that
the cross continued to serve as a focus for public attention after the
medieval period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Various SMR Officers, Unpublished notes in SMR Office,

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments

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