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Standing cross in the churchyard of St Michael and All Angels' Church, High Ercall

A Scheduled Monument in Ercall Magna, Telford and Wrekin

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.7518 / 52°45'6"N

Longitude: -2.6019 / 2°36'6"W

OS Eastings: 359469.9105

OS Northings: 317301.195601

OS Grid: SJ594173

Mapcode National: GBR 7P.ZQGY

Mapcode Global: WH9CV.0387

Entry Name: Standing cross in the churchyard of St Michael and All Angels' Church, High Ercall

Scheduled Date: 1 January 1971

Last Amended: 24 April 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020660

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34921

County: Telford and Wrekin

Civil Parish: Ercall Magna

Built-Up Area: High Ercall

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: High Ercall St Michael and All Angels

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

Details

The monument includes the extant and buried remains of a medieval standing
cross, which was later used as the base for a sundial, and is situated in the
churchyard 40m to the south of the Church of St Michael and All Angels, High
Ercall, which dates from the late 12th century. The church is a Listed
Building, Grade I.
The circular cross base, into which the cross shaft has been inserted,
consists of dressed sandstone blocks and a circular dressed sandstone coping
stone, with traces of a simple moulding around its edge. The stone blocks and
coping stone are bonded with a lime mortar. The cross base measures 1.45m in
diameter at the bottom, 1m across the top and stands to a height of 0.73m. A
vertical-sided hollow, 0.12m by 0.12m, has been cut into the bottom of the
cross base to the north west. During the medieval period this hollow was used
to hold a chalice containing the host, the bread consectrated in the
Eucharist, prior to worship in the church to commemorate Christ's entry into
Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
In the post-medieval period the square base of the cross shaft was reduced in
height to the level of the top of the coping stone in order to create the base
for a sundial. Attached with lead to the base of the cross shaft is an
octagonal block of dressed sandstone, 0.38m across and 0.18m high, onto which
an octagonal iron plate for a sundial was fixed. The sundial has been removed
and has been erected in the church, and is therefore not included in the
scheduling. It is made of bronze with an ornate gnomon (the vertical
projection which cast a shadow indicating the time of day). The dial, with
two 12 hour series in Roman numerals, is inscribed `Thomas Ward fecit 1718'
(made by Thomas Ward 1718).
The cross is Listed Grade II.
The grave immediately to the north of the standing cross is totally excluded
from the scheduling.

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 standing cross in the churchyard of St Michael and All Angels' Church,
High Ercall, is a good example of this class of monument. While it served to
remind the local medieval population of the daily importance of piety, the
hollow cut into the bottom of the cross base indicates the particular
significance of this cross during Palm Sunday solemnities. The cross is in
its original position, and the area immediately surrounding it appears to be
largely undisturbed and is therefore likely to contain the buried remains of
the contemporary ground surface. The modification of the cross to provide a
platform for a sundial illustrates the continuing significance of the monument
as a public amenity.

Source: Historic England

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