Ancient Monuments

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High Cross 60m north west of Highcross House

A Scheduled Monument in Sharnford, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.494 / 52°29'38"N

Longitude: -1.3054 / 1°18'19"W

OS Eastings: 447252.496742

OS Northings: 288683.047211

OS Grid: SP472886

Mapcode National: GBR 7MN.LSC

Mapcode Global: VHCT4.BK7Y

Entry Name: High Cross 60m north west of Highcross House

Scheduled Date: 16 January 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018261

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30236

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Sharnford

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Copston Magna St John

Church of England Diocese: Coventry


The monument includes the High Cross, a standing wayside cross. The cross,
which is Listed Grade II, includes a pedestal base and the stump of a cross
shaft, all of which are 18th century in date with later repairs.
The pedestal base is of ashlar construction, approximately 1.5m square and 3m
in height with pads for shafts at the base of each corner, and includes
cornices and square moulded recesses on each side containing panels. The panel
to the south contains the weathered remains of an inscription in Latin. On top
of the pedestal base stands a second smaller square pedestal, 1m square and
0.8m in height, carrying the remains of a quadruple column with moulded
rounded bases. Both the pedestal and the column include modern repairs in
brick and stone. The column is a maximum of 0.8m in height. The full height of
the cross as it survives is approximately 4.5m.
Documentary sources show the cross to have been constructed in 1712 by the
Earl of Denbigh on the approximate site of the Roman settlement of Venonae,
itself situated alongside an important junction between the Roman roads of
Watling Street and the Fosse Way. One of the two Latin inscriptions originally
on the cross read in translation `If, traveller, you search for the footsteps
of the ancient Romans, here you may behold them; for here their most
celebrated ways, crossing each other, extend to the utmost boundaries of
Britain. Here the Venones had their quarters and at the distance of one mile
from here Claudius, a certain commander of a cohort, seems to have had a camp
towards the Street, and towards the Fosse a tomb'. The cross is known to have
replaced an earlier wooden monument.

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 High Cross represents a good example of a post-medieval wayside cross,
itself replacing an earlier monument and known to stand in or near its
original position. Limited activity in the area immediately surrounding the
cross indicates that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's
construction and use in this location are likely to survive intact. The cross
has not been significantly restored and has continued in use as a well known
public monument and amenity from post-medieval times to the present day.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, (1805)
Leicestershire County Council, 48 NE.AL,
Listing Report: SP 48 NE - 5/47,
RCHME, NMR Long Report: SP 48 NE 10,

Source: Historic England

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