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Medieval market cross and 19th century commemorative cross

A Scheduled Monument in Colston Bassett, Nottinghamshire

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Latitude: 52.8917 / 52°53'29"N

Longitude: -0.963 / 0°57'46"W

OS Eastings: 469865.002002

OS Northings: 333192.01659

OS Grid: SK698331

Mapcode National: GBR BM7.PCP

Mapcode Global: WHFJD.5LP1

Entry Name: Medieval market cross and 19th century commemorative cross

Scheduled Date: 28 April 1953

Last Amended: 16 May 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012872

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23374

County: Nottinghamshire

Civil Parish: Colston Bassett

Traditional County: Nottinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Nottinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Colston Bassett

Church of England Diocese: Southwell and Nottingham


The monument includes the remains of a medieval market cross and the
19th century classical-style shaft and cross head which now surmount it. The
original medieval cross head and shaft are now missing, possibly due to 16th
or 17th century iconoclasts.
The medieval remains comprise a base or calvary of four octagonal steps
surmounted by a plinth and an ornate socle or socket stone. The bottom step of
the calvary has a diameter of c.2.5m and is partially hidden by the modern
cobbled surface surrounding it. All the steps are constructed of dressed
limestone blocks which were formerly stapled together but are now mortared.
The total height of the calvary is c.0.75m. The octagonal plinth is also
constructed of several dressed blocks and has a chamfered top edge. It has a
diameter of a little under 1m and, together with the socle, stands c.0.75m
high. The socle is also octagonal and cut from a single piece of stone. It has
a deep moulded band round its base and a shallower moulded band round its
chamfered top edge. The 19th century Doric shaft above it is in two sections
and is capped by a cross head comprising a moulded square knopp with a ball
finial. Together, shaft and head are c.3m high and are probably of much the
same height as the medieval cross would have been.
The medieval cross was erected in 1257 following the grant of a market charter
by Henry III which allowed Colston Bassett to hold a weekly market and a fair
three times a year. It is in its original location at what was then a major
crossroads. The current cross shaft and head were added in 1831 to commemorate
the coronation of William IV. The cross is also Listed Grade II.
The cobbled surface surrounding the cross is excluded from the scheduling
though the ground underneath is included.

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.

Though missing the original shaft and cross head, the surviving remains of
the Colston Bassett market cross are well-preserved and visually impressive.
Their importance is enhanced by the existence of associated documentary
evidence and because they are still in their original location. The 19th
century shaft and cross head are of additional interest both in art-historical
terms and because they can be directly related to a specific historical event.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Stapleton, A, Catalogue of Nottinghamshire Crosses, (1912), 8
Beamish, H.J.H., Colston Bassett Market Cross, 1987, National Trust Information Leaflet
Shackleton Hill, Angela, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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