Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1013574
Date first listed: 03-Nov-1965
Date of most recent amendment: 30-Aug-1996
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Feb-2019 at 16:35:37.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: King's Lynn and West Norfolk (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: TF 67590 26383
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.
Butler's Cross is a good example of a medieval boundary cross. It is known to have stood in its present location at a road junction since at least the 16th century, and archaeological deposits relating to its construction and use are likely to survive in the ground immediately around and beneath it. Its historical association with both Rising Chase and the de Boteler family give it additional interest, and it has continued in use as a public monument from the medieval period to the present day.
The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross located at the
junction of the B1439 to West Newton and the A149. The ruins of St Felix's
Church and the site of the medieval village of Babingley lie 1km to the west.
The cross is medieval in date and constructed of stone in two parts, a socket
stone and a shaft, standing on a platform of post-medieval bricks surrounded
by a stone kerb. The basal platform stands 0.2m high above the surrounding
surface and is square in plan with dimensions of 1.5m on each side. The
socket stone which forms the lower part of the cross measures 0.5m in height
and c.0.65m square at the foot, with chamfered angles in its upper parts, so
that the upper surface is octagonal. At the centre of the upper surface is a
square mortice into which the foot of the cross shaft is set in lead, and
above this the weathered stump of the shaft stands to a height of 0.2m.
The cross once marked the boundary of Rising Chase and is shown on a map of
the Chase dated 1588. The name `Butler's Cross' derives from the de Botelers
who held the manor of West Hall, Babingley, from the mid-13th century.
The cross is enclosed by low iron railings which are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included. Attached to the
railing is a cast iron plaque with an inscription recording the name of the
cross and the boundary which it marked.
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: 21383
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Blomefield, F, An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk, (1805), 848
Alison, K J, 'Norfolk Archaeology' in The Lost Villages of Norfolk, , Vol. 31, (1957), 143
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