Cross in St Mary's churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018304

Date first listed: 10-Sep-1962

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Jul-1998


Ordnance survey map of Cross in St Mary's churchyard
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: Broadland (District Authority)

Parish: Hellesdon

National Grid Reference: TG 20067 10631


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 churchyard cross at St Mary's is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a square to octagonal socket stone and a square to octagonal shaft. Located to the north east of the chancel it is believed to stand on or near to its original position. Much of the cross has survived from medieval times and subsequent restoration has resulted in its continued function as a public monument and amenity. It has additional interest as one of two crosses within the parish, the second, which is situated at the junction some 780m to the north east, being the subject of a separate scheduling.


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


The monument includes a standing stone cross, located within the churchyard of St Mary's Church, approximately 12m to the north east of the north east corner of the church on ground which slopes to the west. The cross is medieval in date, with some later additions. It includes the pedestal base, the socket stone, the shaft, the capital and the head. The modern pedestal base is constructed of dressed flint. The socket stone is mortared to the surface of the pedestal base and is square at the base, rising through chamfered corners with stop angles to an octagonal section on the surface. Both the pedestal base and the socket stone measure 0.72m square and 0.42m high. The shaft is mortised into the socket stone and measures 0.3m square at the base tapering upwards through moulded corners to a height of 2.32m. The capital is also square in section and joins the shaft to the head, which takes the form of a simple cross facing east and west. The capital measures about 0.3m high by 0.35m wide and the head measures about 0.35m high and 0.25m wide. Both the pedestal base, the capital and head are modern additions to the cross. The full height of the cross in its present form is approximately 3.81m. The gravestone to the north of the cross 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. 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: 31139

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cozens-Hardy, , 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Norfolk Crosses, , Vol. 25, (1935), 321-322

End of official listing