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Cross in St John the Baptist's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Mileham, Norfolk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.7397 / 52°44'22"N

Longitude: 0.8453 / 0°50'43"E

OS Eastings: 592177.442043

OS Northings: 319583.151413

OS Grid: TF921195

Mapcode National: GBR R8H.BJM

Mapcode Global: WHKQK.YDPJ

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

Scheduled Date: 24 July 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018108

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31127

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Mileham

Built-Up Area: Mileham

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Mileham St John Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Norwich

Details

The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross, located within
the churchyard of St John the Baptist's Church, on a slightly raised area of
ground approximately 10m to the west of the north west corner of the church
tower. The cross, which is Listed Grade II*, is 15th century in date with some
later additions. It includes the tomb chest base, the socket stone and the
shaft.

The base consists of a rectangular tomb chest made up of a base plinth, four
side panels and a lid. The base plinth rests on the ground and supports the
four decorative side panels. Four quatrefoils, each with a heraldic shield in
the centre are carved on the east and west panels. The north and south panels
have one and two quatrefoils, respectively, also with central heraldic
shields. Immediately above the side panels is the carved lid. The overall base
measures 2.22m east-west by 1.2m north-south and 1.2m high. The socket stone,
which stands on the tomb chest, is cruciform in plan and is in two parts, with
a median chamfered step and an overall height of 0.85m. The lower stone
measures 1.1m across, and the upper stone, above the chamfer, somewhat less.
The shaft is mortised into the socket stone. It is 0.26m square at the base
with chamfered corners and rises up through a tapering moulded section to a
height of approximately 2m. At the very top of the shaft there are four narrow
niches with small nodding ogee heads. The full height of the cross in its
present form is approximately 4.05m.

The gravestones immediately to the north of the cross 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 churchyard cross at St John the Baptist's is a good example of a medieval
standing cross with a tapering moulded shaft. Situated to the west of the
tower and close to the main gateway to the church in the north west corner of
the churchyard it is believed to stand in or near to its original position.
Whilst parts of the cross have survived from medieval times, subsequent
restoration has resulted in it's continued function as a public monument and
amenity.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Cozens-Hardy, , 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Norfolk Crosses, , Vol. 25, (1935), 318
Other
19th century drawing in SMR file,

Source: Historic England

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