Ancient Monuments

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Cross in the churchyard of St Peter's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Exton, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.0925 / 51°5'32"N

Longitude: -3.5352 / 3°32'6"W

OS Eastings: 292584.688501

OS Northings: 133692.608999

OS Grid: SS925336

Mapcode National: GBR LG.CD6Z

Mapcode Global: FRA 36H7.DKX

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

Scheduled Date: 12 November 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021156

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35704

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Exton

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a medieval cross which is located immediately south
of the porch of St Peter's Church. The remains of the cross, believed to
be of 14th century date and constructed of Ham Hill and local stone,
include a simple square step, a socket stone, and part of the shaft. The
base step is 1 sq m and supports the socket stone which is 0.8 sq m, 0.55m
high and has broached corners. The shaft is octagonal in plan with a 0.3
sq m base. The lower 0.95m of the shaft is original and is set into the
socket. The upper part of the shaft was restored in 1875 and topped with
an ornate cross head. The cross is Listed Grade II.
St Peter's Church can trace its history to the 13th century or earlier,
and it is known to have been in use as a burial ground since at least the
medieval period.
The tarmac surface of the viewing area adjacent to the north side of the
cross bases is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
it 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 some 19th century restoration to the upper part of the shaft and
the addition of a new cross head, the cross in the churchyard of St Peter
retains much medieval fabric. Situated near the south porch of the church,
it is believed to stand in or near its original position and limited
disturbance around the cross indicates that archaeological deposits
relating to the monument's construction are likely to survive intact. The
importance of the cross is enhanced by its continued use as a public
monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 94
Somerset SMR 33638,

Source: Historic England

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