Ancient Monuments

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Market cross, Kirkby in Ashfield

A Scheduled Monument in Kirkby Cross & Portland, Nottinghamshire

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Latitude: 53.101 / 53°6'3"N

Longitude: -1.2696 / 1°16'10"W

OS Eastings: 448999.458491

OS Northings: 356230.886484

OS Grid: SK489562

Mapcode National: GBR 7DB.PT8

Mapcode Global: WHDG4.GBN0

Entry Name: Market cross, Kirkby in Ashfield

Scheduled Date: 12 September 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012926

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23371

County: Nottinghamshire

Electoral Ward/Division: Kirkby Cross & Portland

Built-Up Area: Kirkby-in-Ashfield

Traditional County: Nottinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Nottinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Kirkby-in-Ashfield St Wilfrid

Church of England Diocese: Southwell and Nottingham


The monument includes the remains of a market cross, Listed Grade II, located
at the junction of Church Street, Chapel Street and Sutton Road. The remains
comprise a short calvary or base of four steps surmounted by a socket stone
and the lower portion of a cross shaft. The shaft would originally have been
approximately twice its present height and would have included a carved cross
head. These components are now missing, possibly due to religious iconoclasm
in the 16th or 17th centuries.
The bottom step of the calvary is c.2m square and is partially buried beneath
the asphalt surface of the modern pavement. Each of the three lower steps is
constructed of a double layer of pavings while the fourth step, measuring
c.60cm square is a single block. The visible height of the calvary is c.0.75m.
The socket stone or socle is c.40cm square and c.30cm high. It has chamfered
corners and a stepped profile and appears also to be constructed of more than
one piece of stone. The shaft fragment above is c.1m high, of tapering
rectangular section and has been broken and repaired. The edges are chamfered
and widen out into a rounded, cushion-like pedestal at the base. At the top,
it ends in a rounded shoulder from which the rest of the shaft then rose. The
broken stump of the missing section can still be seen and shows it to have
been integral with the lower portion. The missing section was clearly much
narrower than the shaft below, measuring c.15cm x 10cm rather than c.25cm x
20cm. It appears to have been ovoid in section and probably rose to an
integral cross head. The precise date of the cross is not known but the right
to hold a market in Kirkby in Ashfield was granted in the reign of Henry III
(1216-1272). The surface of the surrounding pavement is excluded from the
scheduling though the ground underneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 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.

Although not complete, the market cross in Kirkby in Ashfield is a reasonably
well preserved example of unusual form.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Stapleton, A, Catalogue of Nottinghamshire Crosses, (1912), 14
Shackleton Hill, Angela, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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