List entry

List entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Standing cross in St Mary's churchyard

List entry Number: 1017058

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County District District Type Parish
Cheshire EastUnitary AuthorityActon

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 14-Dec-1999

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 32562

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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 remains of the medieval standing cross in St Mary's churchyard survive well, having been largely preserved from iconoclastic destruction by the addition of a sundial. The cross stands on the south western side of the chancel and is probably in its original location. It was reported in this position in 1705. The cross is a fine example of 14th century carving and is a good example of medieval devotional building.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes the stepped base and part of the shaft of a medieval standing cross in St Mary's churchyard in Acton. The top of the shaft is surmounted by a 17th century sundial. The cross and sundial are Listed Grade II. The base of the cross is square, constructed of buff sandstone in large dressed ashlar blocks. The first step measures 2.75m wide and is 0.3m high; the second step measures 2.13m wide and 0.25m high and the third step is 1.5m wide and 0.25m high. This supports a base block of a finer sandstone carved with a double ogee at the top, measuring 0.85m wide and 0.56m high. Set into the base block is an octagonal shaft, now 1.9m high, on which is set an elaborate moulded cap, square and surmounted by a ball finial. On each face of the square block is an iron gnomon (pointer) used to convert the cross into a sundial. Gravestones which adjoin the cross base on the east and south sides where they impinge on the monument's protective margin are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

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.

Selected Sources

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details

National Grid Reference: SJ 63214 53087

Map


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This copy shows the entry on 17-Sep-2014 at 04:35:22.