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Cross in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Nettlecombe, Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.1312 / 51°7'52"N

Longitude: -3.3491 / 3°20'56"W

OS Eastings: 305695.524401

OS Northings: 137741.685953

OS Grid: ST056377

Mapcode National: GBR LP.95C1

Mapcode Global: VH6GV.WTTQ

Entry Name: Cross in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin's Church

Scheduled Date: 5 July 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020691

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35312

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Nettlecombe

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Details

The monument includes a cross of medieval origin located 8m south of the
chancel in the churchyard of Nettlecombe parish church. The remains of the
original cross structure comprise a two-stepped square limestone base, of
which the sides of the lower step are 2.1m long, an octagonal socket stone
0.5m high with broached corners, and part of an octagonal tapering shaft.
The upper part of the shaft and the transom are both mid-19th century
additions.
St Mary's Church dates from at least the 13th century, and the 14th
century cross stands in the graveyard which is believed to have been in
use since the medieval period.
The cross is Listed Grade II.

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.

Although missing its original head and carrying later additions, the cross
in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin's Church remains in what is
considered to be its original position to the south of the church, which
can be traced back to its 13th century or earlier foundations. It is an
example of a monument type which provides an insight into the spiritual
life of the medieval period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 116
Other
33834,

Source: Historic England

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