Ancient Monuments

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Standing cross in St Edith's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Shocklach Oviatt and District, Cheshire West and Chester

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Latitude: 53.0457 / 53°2'44"N

Longitude: -2.849 / 2°50'56"W

OS Eastings: 343180.796363

OS Northings: 350167.517678

OS Grid: SJ431501

Mapcode National: GBR 7C.D4H2

Mapcode Global: WH891.6PLX

Entry Name: Standing cross in St Edith's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 29 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018076

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30368

County: Cheshire West and Chester

Civil Parish: Shocklach Oviatt and District

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Shocklach St Edith

Church of England Diocese: Chester


The monument includes a medieval cross on three steps in St Edith's
churchyard. The shaft has been partly restored and the head is missing.
The cross stands in its original location on the south side of the church. The
steps are constructed of local red sandstone ashlar blocks. The first step
measures 2.25m square and stands 0.1m high. The second step is 1.7m square
and stands 0.2m high. The third step is 1.2m square and 0.18m high. The base
is a single block of sandstone 0.97m square and 0.33m high. The edges are
deeply chamfered, a corner has been broken away on the north east side and
there is a recess cut into the top on the north west side. The shaft is said
to have been set on a small stone base in 1899.
The octagonal shaft stands 1.2m high with four cup-shaped depressions in the
top, reputedly for offerings during the plague of the 17th century.
The cross is Listed Grade II. The gravestones and slabs which lie adjacent to
the cross are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is

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 standing cross in St Edith's churchyard survives relatively well despite
the loss of the cross head and part of the shaft. Re-use as a plague cross
may have ensured its survival during the century after the Reformation.

Source: Historic England


Haswell, G W, (1899)

Source: Historic England

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