Butter Cross 150m east of the church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017498

Date first listed: 08-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Butter Cross 150m east of the church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Leicestershire

District: Harborough (District Authority)

Parish: Hallaton

National Grid Reference: SP 78798 96509


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.

This Butter Cross 150m east of the church, represents a good example of a medieval or post-medieval Butter Cross. Situated in the former market place, it is believed to stand in or near its original position and limited activity in the area immediately surrounding the cross indicates that archaeological deposits relating to its construction and use in this location will survive intact. While the majority of the cross is original, its subsequent restoration and repair illustrates its continued function as a public monument and amenity.


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


The monument includes the Butter Cross, a standing stone cross of post-medieval and later date, 150m east of the church. The cross, which is Listed Grade II*, includes a base of two steps and a conical structure. The steps are circular in plan and constructed from ironstone ashlar blocks. The bottom step has a maximum diameter of 3.7m. On the uppermost step stands a cone of regular coursed stone, measuring 2m in diameter at its base, with a maximum height of 2m and surmounted by a stone ball finial. The full height of the cross is 3m. The cross is thought to date from the 17th century, with modern repairs and refacing, and marks the location of the weekly village market. Contemporary documentary sources show that a market was first granted in 1224, which is believed to have lapsed by the late 17th century but was revived in 1767. The monument is clearly depicted in an 18th century engraving and described as `the town cross'. The adjacent kerbstone and the tarmac surface of the road are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 30235

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Nichols, J, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, (1805)
Pugh, RB , The Victoria History of the County of Leicester, (1964)
Leicestershire County Council, 79 NE.AU,
Listing Report: 8/86,
RCHME, NMR Long Report: SP 79 NE 2,

End of official listing