Ancient Monuments

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Cross in the churchyard of All Saints' Church

A Scheduled Monument in Selworthy, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.2101 / 51°12'36"N

Longitude: -3.5476 / 3°32'51"W

OS Eastings: 291995.347

OS Northings: 146793.162178

OS Grid: SS919467

Mapcode National: GBR LF.432C

Mapcode Global: VH5JX.GVD6

Entry Name: Cross in the churchyard of All Saints' Church

Scheduled Date: 3 September 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020775

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35323

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Selworthy

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a medieval cross which is located 4m opposite the
east door of the south aisle of All Saints' Church at Selworthy. The cross
structure includes three octagonal steps, a square-based socket stone with
broached upper corners and an octagonal tapering shaft which is square at the
base. The diameter of the cross base is 3m and each side of the lower step is
1.2m long, the middle step 0.85m long and the upper step 0.60m long, and all
three are between 0.36m and 0.4m high. The socket stone is 0.8 sq m and 0.7m
high into which is set the shaft which is approximately 2m in height. Each
side of the socket stone is ornamented with a panelled quatrefoil. The
original cross head is missing and is locally believed to have been removed
during the English Civil War.
The cross is Listed Grade II*.
The present church of All Saints dates from at least the 14th century and
possibly even earlier and the cross stands in the graveyard which has been in
use since the medieval period.
All gravestones which fall within the cross' 1m 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

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.

Despite missing its original head, the cross located in the churchyard of All
Saints' Church survives well and displays medieval ornamentation. It remains
in what is considered to be its original position opposite the south porch of
the church which can be traced back to its 14th century or earlier
foundations. It is an example of a monument type which provides insight into
spiritual life in the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 112


Source: Historic England

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