Burnham Overy village cross, 90m south west of St Clement's Church
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- King's Lynn and West Norfolk (District Authority)
- Burnham Overy
- National Grid Reference:
- TF 84223 42873
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.
Burnham Overy village cross is a good example of a medieval standing cross. Situated at the road junction in the heart of the village, it is believed to occupy its original position. Archaeological deposits relating to its construction and use are likely to survive intact in the ground immediately around and beneath it, despite limited disturbance caused by public utilities in the area of green adjoining the monument. The cross has undergone little alteration in modern times, and has continued in use as a public monument from the medieval period to the present day.
The monument includes Burnham Overy village cross, a Grade II Listed standing
stone cross located on a small green at the centre of the junction of Mill
Road and the B1155 to Burnham Market. The cross is medieval in date and
constructed of limestone in two parts, a socket stone and a shaft, raised upon
a tall base built of medieval or early post-medieval brick covered in a cement
rendering. This base measures 0.95m in height and c.1m square at the foot,
tapering inward slightly in two equal stages. The socket stone which forms the
lower part of the cross is 0.35m in height and 0.67m square at the bottom with
chamfered stops above. On each face, between the stops, is a small carved
shield. The tapering shaft set into it is octagonal in section and broken at a
height of 0.6m; the junction between the two is concealed by a modern cement
rendering. A direction post was at one time mounted upon the shaft, but this
has now been removed. The overall height of the monument above ground level is
The post of a modern road sign set 1m from the eastern side of the base of the
monument is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is
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.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Cozens-Hardy, , 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Norfolk Crosses, , Vol. 25, (1935), 304
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing