Village cross 12m north of St Mary's church
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
- Lyneham and Bradenstoke
- National Grid Reference:
- SU 00049 79398
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 12m north of St Mary's Church at Bradenstoke survives well and is a good, almost complete example. Although it has been moved it still holds a central position in the village in which it has stood for many centuries. The considerable wear on the steps is an illustration of the extent of its use over this time.
The monument includes a medieval village cross at Bradenstoke, a village
situated on Coral Rag to the north west of the Marlborough Downs.
The cross is built of limestone and comprises a base set on three steps with a
shaft inserted. The two lower steps are round, the lowest being 3m in diameter
while the upper step is octagonal. The base is also octagonal, 0.9m wide and
1m high with a moulded base and chamfered corners. Inserted into this is the
shaft 0.28m wide at the square base but chamfered above, tapering slightly to
a height of 1.8m where it ends at a point. There is no cross head. The entire
structure is 3.6m high.
The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is first mentioned in 1546-7 in a
schedule of grants to crown lands. Originally it stood in the centre of the
road, 10m to the north but it was moved to one side in the 20th century. It is
now used as a war memorial and there is a bronze plaque on the north side of
the base, which is included in the scheduling.
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.
This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 16 December 2016.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Pevsner, N , The Buildings of England: Wiltshire, (1975), 127
Stevenson, J H, The Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire, (1970), 93
War Memorials Online, accessed 16/12/2016 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/173182
War Memorials Register, accessed 16/12/2016 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/3094
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing