Medieval cross base south west of St Mary the Virgin's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019079

Date first listed: 18-Nov-1960

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Nov-2000


Ordnance survey map of Medieval cross base south west of St Mary the Virgin's Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Harrogate (District Authority)

Parish: Goldsborough

National Grid Reference: SE 38466 56073


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 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 sculpted 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 steped base, buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either shaft and head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly 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. Although the cross shaft is missing, the medieval cross base south west of St Mary the Virgin's Church survives well. Its survival and reference to the base acting as a focal point for rent payments in the 16th century is of additional interest as evidence of its continuing importance within the locality over time.


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


The monument includes the medieval cross base situated in Goldsborough churchyard. The cross base is a large cylindrical block carved from a single piece of stone. It is 1.3m in diameter and 0.7m high. There is a shallow circular socket in the top 0.15m deep and 0.7m diameter. This socket would have supported a cross shaft which has now been lost. The base stands on a plinth 2.6m square formed by long narrow stone slabs along the edge. The centre of the plinth, around the cross base, has been laid with concrete. Around 1910 human bones and a small Viking enamelled strap end were found beneath the cross base. The strap end is now in Ripon Cathedral. Documents dating to the 16th century indicate that annual rent payments were made at the base stone. The kerbstones around the footpath are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 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: 28255

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
'Archaeological Journal' in Archaeological Journal, , Vol. VOL XVI, (), 197

End of official listing