Ancient Monuments

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

A Scheduled Monument in Luccombe, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.1896 / 51°11'22"N

Longitude: -3.5594 / 3°33'33"W

OS Eastings: 291118.492248

OS Northings: 144531.412

OS Grid: SS911445

Mapcode National: GBR LF.562Y

Mapcode Global: VH5K3.8C4D

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

Scheduled Date: 12 March 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020917

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35584

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Luccombe

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a medieval cross constructed in Red Sandstone and
located 20m east of the chancel in the churchyard of Luccombe parish
church. The church dates back to at least the 13th century. The remains
of the original cross, which are of 15th century date, are an octagonal
three-stepped base, an octagonal socket stone and part of an octagonal
shaft, the head having been removed. The sides of the three base steps are
1.1m, 0.9m and 0.56m long respectively and the two lower steps have
overhanging dripmoulds. The chamfered socket stone is 0.63m high with the
upper part bevelled, into which is set the surviving part of the original
shaft, approximately 1m high.
The cross is Listed Grade II*.

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 15th century cross is prominently situated in the churchyard of the
Church of St Mary the Virgin and is located in what is believed to be
its original position. It survives comparatively well despite its
original cross head having been removed (probably during the time of
Oliver Cromwell) and some later minor restoration work.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Allen, NV , The Churches and Chapels of Exmoor, (1974), 58-9
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 94

Source: Historic England

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