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Latitude: 52.5494 / 52°32'57"N
Longitude: -0.4898 / 0°29'23"W
OS Eastings: 502495.625002
OS Northings: 295687.054003
OS Grid: TL024956
Mapcode National: GBR FX3.2ZG
Mapcode Global: VHFN9.G5DZ
Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Leonard's churchyard
Scheduled Date: 8 December 1997
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1018118
English Heritage Legacy ID: 29720
Civil Parish: Apethorpe
Traditional County: Northamptonshire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire
Church of England Parish: Apethorpe St Leonard
Church of England Diocese: Peterborough
The monument includes the remains of a churchyard cross located approximately
4.7m south east of the south porch in St Leonard's churchyard in the village
of Apethorpe. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is medieval in date, its
architectural style suggesting a 14th century date.
The base of the cross takes the form of an ironstone plinth approximately
1.04m square and a socket stone with chamfered and decorated corners. The
socket stone measures 0.84m square and is approximately 0.39m high. Morticed
into the socket is a portion of a shaft approximately 1.02m high by 1.15m
square. The shaft, which is bonded with lead, has vertical grooving but is
The grave markers which lie within the monument'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
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 remains of the standing stone cross at Apethorpe represent a good example
of a medieval churchyard cross with decorated socket stone and grooved shaft.
Situated south east of the south porch, it is believed to stand in or near its
original position and limited activity in the area immediately surrounding the
cross indicates that archaeological deposits relating to its construction and
use in this location are likely to survive intact. Most of the cross has
survived from the medieval period and continues to function as a public
monument and amenity.
Source: Historic England
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