Eynsham market cross


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015170

Date first listed: 05-Jul-1954

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Nov-1996


Ordnance survey map of Eynsham market cross
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Oxfordshire

District: West Oxfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Eynsham

National Grid Reference: SP 43282 09254


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 Eynsham market cross stands in its original location and the ground beneath and around its base will contain archaeological evidence relating to its construction and use. It lies at the centre of the town square and would have influenced the development of the town plan from c.1300 onwards.


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


The monument includes the remains of a comparatively early market cross situated in the square, immediately north of St Leonard's Church. The cross, which is believed to date to c.1300, lies less than 100m north of the site of Eynsham Abbey. The cross has a high, tapering fluted shaft with an ornamented capital on which the head of the cross (now missing) would have been seated. The ornament includes a band around the middle of the shaft and floral motifs on alternate flutes, rising from canopies over figures which are now badly weathered. The shaft is square socketed into a step base which measures c.2m square. The shaft itself has been strapped with iron but is otherwise comparatively unusual in being complete. The cross has been a focal point within Eynsham since the medieval period and it continues to have a prominent position in the town. The cross is Listed Grade II. Excluded from the scheduling is the road surface where this falls within the cross's protective margin, 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.


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

Legacy System number: 28142

Legacy System: RSM


PRN 2313, C.A.O., EYNSHAM CROSS, (1980)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: SP 40 NW

End of official listing