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Ludgershall village cross

A Scheduled Monument in Ludgershall, Wiltshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.2569 / 51°15'24"N

Longitude: -1.6223 / 1°37'20"W

OS Eastings: 426452.582001

OS Northings: 150926.212002

OS Grid: SU264509

Mapcode National: GBR 60N.4NH

Mapcode Global: VHC2H.TNQT

Entry Name: Ludgershall village cross

Scheduled Date: 21 December 1943

Last Amended: 7 September 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012691

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26703

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Ludgershall

Built-Up Area: Ludgershall

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Ludgershall St James

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

Details

The monument includes part of a medieval standing cross, situated on the east
side of Castle Street in Ludgershall.
The cross has a rectangular brick plinth, to a maximum of 13 courses
high, which itself stands on a foundation of small stone blocks. This plinth
is surmounted by a series of three stone steps of diminishing size. The lower
two are built of stone blocks connected, in the case of the lower step, by
iron billets run in with lead. The upper two steps both retain vestigial
mouldings on their upper edges and the uppermost step consists of a single
stone block. This in turn supports a rectangular stone 0.6m square and 1m
high, decorated on all four sides with low relief carvings, now partly eroded
so that only the most general characteristics can be discerned. This stone has
the remains of a socket in its upper surface, suggesting that it originally
formed the base to a shaft.
The cross, which is Listed Grade II, is surrounded by ornamental iron railings
erected to commemorate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897.
The monument, which is in the Guardianship of the Secretary of State (a plaque
is affixed to the north side of the brick plinth), includes the area defined
by the railings, an area of 3m by 3m.
Excluded from the scheduling are the railings and the tarmac surface although
the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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.

Although the Ludgershall village cross has in the past sustained damage which
has resulted in the loss of some components, it remains an important example
of a type of monument which provides considerable insight into both spiritual
and secular life in the medieval period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England and Wales, (1975), 315
Awdrey, W H, 'Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine' in Ludgershall Castle and its History, , Vol. 21, (1884), 324

Source: Historic England

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