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Churchyard cross in St John the Baptist's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Berkswell, Solihull

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.4098 / 52°24'35"N

Longitude: -1.6426 / 1°38'33"W

OS Eastings: 424409.132662

OS Northings: 279146.888234

OS Grid: SP244791

Mapcode National: GBR 5KH.ZFL

Mapcode Global: VHBWW.GPZJ

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St John the Baptist's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 18 March 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018269

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30026

County: Solihull

Civil Parish: Berkswell

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Berkswell St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Coventry

Details

The monument includes the six steps, socket stone, shaft and head of a
standing cross, located within the churchyard of St John the Baptist's Church,
approximately 10m south east of the south east angle of the church. The cross,
which is Listed Grade II, is of stepped form standing over 2m in height and is
principally medieval in date with some later additions.
The steps are octagonal in plan, the bottom step measuring 4.75m in width and
the top step measuring 1.6m in width. All of the steps are 0.22m high and are
partly bonded with mortar. The socket stone is also octagonal measuring 0.95m
in diameter, and 0.53m high. It is chamfered on its upper outside edge.
The cross shaft, the knop and the head are modern additions. The squared end
of the cross shaft is morticed into the socket and the shaft rises through
chamfered corners to a tapering octagonal section with an elaborate octagonal
knop and cross head with a quatrefoil traceried centre. The cross was restored
in 1984.
The gravestones, table tomb and the surface of the modern path, where these
features fall within the cross's protective margin, 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 a good example of a medieval
standing cross with an octagonal stepped base and octagonal socket stone.
Situated in a prominent position close to the south east angle of the church,
it is believed to stand in its original position. Considerable remains survive
from the medieval period, and subsequent restoration of the shaft and head
illustrates the continued function of the cross as a public monument and
amenity.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Various SMR Officers, Unpublished notes in SMR files,

Source: Historic England

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