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Medieval standing cross 50m east of St Peter's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Pimperne, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.8843 / 50°53'3"N

Longitude: -2.1376 / 2°8'15"W

OS Eastings: 390418.272138

OS Northings: 109430.295103

OS Grid: ST904094

Mapcode National: GBR 1Z4.DDL

Mapcode Global: FRA 66DR.YW4

Entry Name: Medieval standing cross 50m east of St Peter's Church

Scheduled Date: 11 August 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021149

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35389

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Pimperne

Built-Up Area: Pimperne

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Pimperne St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes the remains of a cross of probable 15th century date
situated on what was once the village green at Pimperne, 50m east of St
Peter's Church. It is a Listed Building Grade II.
The cross, which is made of greensand stone, comprises a square plinth of
three worn and uneven steps with a square socket stone and the remains of
a shaft. The bottom step is 2.65 sq m and an average of 0.50m high and
some of the stones retain traces of very worn moulding. The next step is
2.15 sq m and 0.25m high and the top step is 1.52 sq m and 0.23m high. The
socket stone is 0.86 sq m and 0.68m high into which is set the stump of
the cross shaft which was probably originally octagonal with a square
base, 0.3 sq m, surviving to a height of 0.62m. When the cross was
surveyed by Pope in 1906 there was an oak post, said to be the remains of
the village stocks, close to the south side of the bottom step. This no
longer survives.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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 medieval standing cross 50m east of St Peter's Church, despite the
loss of the upper shaft and cross head, survives in good condition. It
appears to be in its original position and remains an important example of
its class.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pope, A, Old Stone Crosses of Dorset, (1906), 81-82

Source: Historic England

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