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Abbots Bromley market cross

A Scheduled Monument in Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.8186 / 52°49'7"N

Longitude: -1.8821 / 1°52'55"W

OS Eastings: 408039.033001

OS Northings: 324572.742001

OS Grid: SK080245

Mapcode National: GBR 39P.BZ3

Mapcode Global: WHCG2.2F00

Entry Name: Abbots Bromley market cross

Scheduled Date: 25 September 1935

Last Amended: 12 June 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012672

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21602

County: Staffordshire

Civil Parish: Abbots Bromley

Built-Up Area: Abbots Bromley

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Abbots Bromley St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

Details

The monument includes the 16th or 17th century market cross of Abbots Bromley
which is Listed Grade II*. It stands within the market place and takes the
form of a hexagonal timber structure with a tiled roof and is surmounted by a
timber finial.
A market was first established in Abbots Bromley in 1222 when the abbots of
Burton were empowered to hold a weekly market here; this was confirmed by
royal charter in 1227. During the early 14th century a stone market house,
described as a new building, stood in the market place and a cross is
mentioned in the mid 14th century. These structures are thought to be the
predecessors to the present structure and will survive as buried features.
The market cross, or butter cross as it is also known, is an open-sided
structure with an hexagonal plan. It has a patterned cobble floor and this is
included in the scheduling. The pyramidal tiled roof has lead flashings and is
supported by curved braces and seven timber stanchions or pillars, several of
which have been partly restored. They are hexagonal in section and sit on
stone pads at each angle of the building with one pillar in the centre. This
central pillar continues above the roof where it forms an ornamental finial.
The surfaces of the road, pavement and adjacent car park are excluded from the
scheduling although the ground beneath these features is included. The
noticeboard attached to the central pillar is also excluded.

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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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.

Abbots Bromley market cross survives well and is a good example of a structure
which has its origins in the medieval period. The cross stands in its original
position, and limited disturbance of the area immediately surrounding the
structure indicates that archaeological deposits relating to the monument's
construction and use are likely to survive intact. The buried remains of the
original market house and cross which date from at least the early 14th
century are thought to survive beneath the ground surface and, together with
the present structure, these remains will provide important information for
the historical development and form of this type of monument. The restoration
of the market cross itself illustrates its continued function as a public
monument and amenity from at least the 17th century to the present day.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Rice, M A, Abbots Bromley, (1939), 11

Source: Historic England

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