Midsands Cross on Crosstead road


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018317

Date first listed: 09-Sep-1936

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Jun-1998


Ordnance survey map of Midsands Cross on Crosstead road
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: Great Yarmouth (District Authority)

National Grid Reference: TG 52517 10039


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 Midsands Cross at Great Yarmouth is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a circular foundation plinth and a tiered base. Marking the former boundary between Great Yarmouth and Caister it is believed to stand in or near to its original position. The composition of the cross base (pebbles and flints mortared together) represents an unusual type of which only a few examples are known in Norfolk. The cross has not been significantly restored but has continued in use as a public monument from medieval times up to the present day.


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


The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross, located on the pavement of 19 Crosstead road in a housing estate. It is sited approximately 1km west of the coastline. The remains of the cross are thought to date from the late 13th century and include a single block of mortared pebbles and flint which incorporates the foundation plinth and the two tiered base.

The foundation plinth is circular in plan; it measures 3.3m in diameter and 0.5m high. This plinth was originally below the ground level and soil was heaped over it to form a low mound, approximately 10.7m in diameter. The mound was excavated and removed prior to development of the area. The cross base is built onto the plinth. It it also constructed of pebbles and flint mortared together. The base tier measures 1.8m square at the base and tapers upwards to a height of 1.3m. The upper tier measures 1m east-west by 0.89m north-south at the base tapering up to 0.78m square on the surface and is 0.78m high. The full height of the cross in its present form is approximately 2.58m.

The monument is thought to represent the cross which formerly marked the northern limit of the borough of Great Yarmouth. The cross stood near the southern edge of Grubb's Haven, the old channel of the River Bure that separated Yarmouth from Caister and which is frequently mentioned in the boundary disputes between the two towns from the late 13th to the 16th centuries. The surviving cross base is believed to represent the flint and mortar core which would have originally been faced with stone.

The surface of the pavement, where it falls within the monument's protective margin, and the brick post about 1m to the west of the cross 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: 31132

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cozens-Hardy, , 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Norfolk Crosses, , Vol. 25, (1935), 332-333
Card in SMR file, Green, C, (1962)
Letter in SMR file, Rye, G, (1961)
Newspaper article in SMR file, Green, C, The Cross in the Midsands: A Yarmouth Caister Boundary Dispute, (1961)

End of official listing