Village cross, 70m north west of the Holy Cross Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018105

Date first listed: 18-Jan-1977

Date of most recent amendment: 19-Mar-1998


Ordnance survey map of Village cross, 70m north west of the Holy Cross 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: Caston

National Grid Reference: TL 95889 97578


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 at Caston is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a circular tiered base, and a decorated square socket stone. Situated at the north east end of the village green and about 70m to the north west of Holy Cross Church, it is believed to stand in or near to its original position. Many of the wayside crosses in Norfolk are situated along the pilgrimage routes to Walsingham. The discovery of burials in the area around the cross give it additional interest. The cross has not been significantly restored and has continued in use as a public monument from the medieval period.


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


The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross, located towards the north east corner of the village green, approximately 15m to the west of the Red Lion Public House and 70m to the north west of Holy Cross Church. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is principally 15th century in date with some later additions. It includes the two tiered base and the socket stone.

The lower tier of the base is circular in plan and is constructed of worked stone; it measures 1.8m in diameter and 0.96m high. The upper tier is also circular in plan and is constructed of bricks; it measures 1.24m in diameter and 0.96m high. Both tiers are topped by stone slabs with projecting moulding around the edges, and both show evidence of repair work. The socket stone rests on the upper tier and is square in plan, orientated north east, south west-north west, south east. It measures 0.8m in diameter and 0.47m high. The four sides of the socket stone each have decoration of blank arcading with two cinquefoils in the centre and two smaller trefoils on each side. The socket hole, cut into the top of the socket stone, measures 0.4m square and has been filled with concrete. The full height of the cross in its present form is approximately 2.34m.

The Church of the Holy Cross, 70m to the south east, is thought to be situated along one of the ancient pilgrimage routes to Walsingham and the cross may mark the route to the church. A number of skeletons have been dug up from the area around the cross, during the excavation of service trenches.

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: 31116

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cozens-Hardy, , 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Norfolk Crosses, , Vol. 25, (1935), 304-5
Paper in SMR File, Barnes, JS, The Mystery of Caston's Cross, (1978)

End of official listing