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Somerton Market Cross

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Somerton Market Cross

List entry Number: 1016740

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Somerset

District: South Somerset

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Somerton

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 12-Jan-1925

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Jul-1999

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 32181

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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.

Somerton Market Cross survives in an excellent state of preservation and provides a continuity of a monument at the Market Place from at least the late 14th century. It is a focal point of the town and possesses interesting features such as the gargoyles, each one displaying a different character.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a post-medieval market cross, prominently situated in the market place in the centre of Somerton. The cross structure is octagonal in plan and is constructed from a local Lias stone with Ham stone dressings. A three-stepped base supports an octagonal column, the top corbelled to support the roof timbers. A stone slate pyramidal roof rests on eight arches with low angled buttressess at the corner of each pier. A string course between the arches and the roof supports a battlemented parapet. A gargoyle at each angle of the string course carries water through a lead spout. The roof is crowned by a stone ball finial. The market cross, which is Listed Grade II*, was erected in 1673 during the reign of Charles II, probably on the site of an earlier cross recorded as being in place by 1390. The cross was sold to the town by Lord Ilchester in 1916.

The five wooden posts set into each the northernmost five arches to restrict vehicular access, together with the modern guttering flags and drains which surround the monument but lie within the area of protection, are all excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath theses features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
The Victoria History of the County of Somerset - Parish Surveys, Somerton, (1974), 144
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 85

National Grid Reference: ST4905828538

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1016740 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 25-Nov-2017 at 05:44:34.

End of official listing