Village cross 50m east of St Mary's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016695

Date first listed: 02-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Village cross 50m east of St Mary's Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: Breckland (District Authority)

Parish: Beachamwell

National Grid Reference: TF 75110 05339


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 village cross which stands on Beachamwell village green is a good example of this class of monument, and although it is known to have been moved, it stands near to its original site and has retained its character as a public monument throughout its recorded history. It is of unusually simple form, as compared with that of a second medieval cross which stands approximately 500m to the north east, near the intersection of three roads.


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


The monument includes the remains of a medieval village cross situated on Beachamwell village green, approximately 0.6m from the east wall of St Mary's churchyard. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, includes the lower part of the cross shaft supported on a socket stone. The socket stone which forms the base of the cross is aligned NNW-SSE, at an angle to the line of the churchyard wall. It stands 0.33m above the ground surface and measures approximately 0.7m square. The surface is weathered, but shows traces of chamfering around the upper edge. The surviving part of the cross shaft is rectangular in cross section, measuring 0.34m by 0.17m, and is 0.56m in height, set WSW-ENE into a slightly larger rectangular socket in the upper surface of the base. The cross stood formerly at the opposite end of the green, approximately 100m to the east of its present position. In the mid-19th century it was moved from there to a site approximately 670m to the north east, where it was set up as a glebe boundary marker and the letter G incised on what is now the south east face of the socket stone. It was returned to the green in 1981. A small stake carrying an information panel set close to the eastern face of the socket stone is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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: 30564

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cozens-Hardy, , 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Norfolk Crosses, , Vol. 25, (1935), 301-302

End of official listing