Medieval market cross and 19th century commemorative cross


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012872

Date first listed: 28-Apr-1953

Date of most recent amendment: 16-May-1995


Ordnance survey map of Medieval market cross and 19th century commemorative cross
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Nottinghamshire

District: Rushcliffe (District Authority)

Parish: Colston Bassett

National Grid Reference: SK 69865 33192


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 the original shaft and cross head, the surviving remains of the Colston Bassett market cross are well-preserved and visually impressive. Their importance is enhanced by the existence of associated documentary evidence and because they are still in their original location. The 19th century shaft and cross head are of additional interest both in art-historical terms and because they can be directly related to a specific historical event.


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


The monument includes the remains of a medieval market cross and the 19th century classical-style shaft and cross head which now surmount it. The original medieval cross head and shaft are now missing, possibly due to 16th or 17th century iconoclasts. The medieval remains comprise a base or calvary of four octagonal steps surmounted by a plinth and an ornate socle or socket stone. The bottom step of the calvary has a diameter of c.2.5m and is partially hidden by the modern cobbled surface surrounding it. All the steps are constructed of dressed limestone blocks which were formerly stapled together but are now mortared. The total height of the calvary is c.0.75m. The octagonal plinth is also constructed of several dressed blocks and has a chamfered top edge. It has a diameter of a little under 1m and, together with the socle, stands c.0.75m high. The socle is also octagonal and cut from a single piece of stone. It has a deep moulded band round its base and a shallower moulded band round its chamfered top edge. The 19th century Doric shaft above it is in two sections and is capped by a cross head comprising a moulded square knopp with a ball finial. Together, shaft and head are c.3m high and are probably of much the same height as the medieval cross would have been. The medieval cross was erected in 1257 following the grant of a market charter by Henry III which allowed Colston Bassett to hold a weekly market and a fair three times a year. It is in its original location at what was then a major crossroads. The current cross shaft and head were added in 1831 to commemorate the coronation of William IV. The cross is also Listed Grade II. The cobbled surface surrounding the cross is 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: 23374

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Stapleton, A, Catalogue of Nottinghamshire Crosses, (1912), 8
Beamish, H.J.H., Colston Bassett Market Cross, 1987, National Trust Information Leaflet
Shackleton Hill, Angela, (1994)

End of official listing