Ancient Monuments

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Binham village cross

A Scheduled Monument in Binham, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.917 / 52°55'1"N

Longitude: 0.9491 / 0°56'56"E

OS Eastings: 598370.94868

OS Northings: 339578.515285

OS Grid: TF983395

Mapcode National: GBR S7V.0ST

Mapcode Global: WHLQS.KY44

Entry Name: Binham village cross

Scheduled Date: 12 April 1926

Last Amended: 11 October 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013571

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21380

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Binham

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Binham St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Norwich


The monument includes Binham village cross, a Grade II Listed standing stone
cross located on the green in the centre of the village, c.400m south east of
Holy Cross Church and the site of Binham priory. The cross is medieval in date
and constructed of Barnack stone in two parts, a socket stone and a shaft,
raised upon a tall base of coursed masonry. This base measures 2m in height
and c.3m square at the foot, which is of mortared flint rubble with stone
quoins. Above this it tapers in stepped courses of mortared stone blocks, some
of them reused, capped by a platform of thin slabs upon which the cross
stands. The socket stone which forms the lower part of the cross is c.0.5m
high with moulded stop angles. The tapering monolithic shaft set into this is
c.3.5m high and octagonal in section except at the foot, which is square. It
has the weathered remains of ornamental moulding around the mid point and is
broken at the top.
The cross is believed to have been erected by the monks of Binham priory.
Following the granting of a charter by Henry I, an annual fair and a weekly
market were held here, and fairs continued to be held until the early 1950s.

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.

Binham village cross is one of the best surviving examples in Norfolk of a
medieval standing cross. Situated on the village green, it is believed to
stand in its original position, and archaeological deposits relating to its
construction and use are likely to survive intact in the ground immediately
around and beneath it. The historical associations with Binham priory and the
documentation recording the medieval fair and market held here give it
additional interest. The monument has continued in use as a public monument
and amenity from the medieval period to the present day.

Source: Historic England

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