Boundary cross on the corner of Ferrybridge Road and Stumpcross Lane


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011848

Date first listed: 27-Sep-1995


Ordnance survey map of Boundary cross on the corner of Ferrybridge Road and Stumpcross Lane
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Wakefield (Metropolitan Authority)

National Grid Reference: SE 46947 23450


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.

Though missing its shaft, the boundary cross on the corner of Ferrybridge Road and Stumpcross Lane is important for its well preserved decoration and its in situ association with a pre-Conquest administrative boundary and possible function as a monastic boundary marker.


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


The monument is the socle or socket stone of the late 11th or 12th century boundary cross known as Stump Cross or Ralph's Cross. It comprises a rectangular sandstone block decorated on all four faces with blind arcading consisting of three Norman style arches linked by pillars with moulded capitals and pedestals. The socle is enclosed by iron railings preventing accurate measurement, but it appears to measure c.90cm x c.80cm x c.50cm high. In the top is a large socket hole measuring c.50cm x c.30cm x c.15cm deep which indicates that the missing cross shaft was probably quite massive. A large fragment of the cross shaft was drawn prior to 1793 by John Carter and shown to have been decorated along its edges with barley-twist mouldings. Two sides were ornamented with geometrical and foliage patterns and the remaining sides with a nude male figure and an eagle in a rounded niche. This fragment is now missing but two other fragments with barley-twist edging have now been assigned to this cross and are currently located in Pontefract museum. The first has a kneeling figure and foliage on its two narrow faces and a mounted Norman soldier with a lance on one of its broad faces, while the second has interlace and a seated figure with crossed legs on its broad faces and a standing figure with sword, shield and chainmail on one of its narrow faces. The remaining faces are both damaged. The socle is understood to be in its original location and marks the boundary between Pontefract and Ferry Fryston. This boundary dates to before the Norman Conquest though the cross itself is later and may be a monastic cross marking the edge of land formerly owned by St John's Priory. The railings surrounding the cross, and the `blue plaque' on the railings, are excluded from the scheduling though the ground underneath is included.

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


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

Legacy System number: 23377

Legacy System: RSM


Battye, H, Pontefract: key to the North, 1981, Unpublished manuscript
In WYAS SMR file, West Yorkshire Archaeological Service, (1987)
Shackleton Hill, Angela, (1994)

End of official listing