Ancient Monuments

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Market cross on west side of Market Place

A Scheduled Monument in Billesdon, Leicestershire

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Latitude: 52.6184 / 52°37'6"N

Longitude: -0.9392 / 0°56'21"W

OS Eastings: 471913.342163

OS Northings: 302821.752629

OS Grid: SK719028

Mapcode National: GBR BQK.WXP

Mapcode Global: WHFKR.JGZ0

Entry Name: Market cross on west side of Market Place

Scheduled Date: 13 October 1951

Last Amended: 15 May 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014514

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21649

County: Leicestershire

Civil Parish: Billesdon

Built-Up Area: Billesdon

Traditional County: Leicestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Leicestershire

Church of England Parish: Billesdon cum Goadby and Rolleston

Church of England Diocese: Leicester


The monument includes the market cross, a standing stone cross located on the
western side of Market Place in the village of Billesdon. The cross, which
is Listed Grade II, includes a base, consisting of a plinth, a medieval
socket stone and a modern socket stone, the shaft and a cross-head. It is
probably 13th or 14th century in origin and has modern additions.
The plinth, which is 1.2m square in plan, is constructed of separate blocks of
stone and is of modern date. Resting on the plinth is what is believed to be
the original medieval socket stone. It is also square in section with a
rounded upper edge and is now surmounted by a modern cube-like socket stone.
Set into the centre of this modern socket stone is the shaft, approximately 2m
high, with a tapering square section and roll mouldings applied to each angle.
The head of the cross takes the form of a fleur-de-lys and is thought to be
19th century in date. The full height of the cross is approximately 3.5m.
The surface of the pathway to the east of the cross is excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath 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.

The market cross on the west side of Market Place is a good example of a 13th
or 14th century standing cross with a roll moulded shaft. Situated in the
former marketplace, it is believed to stand in or near its original position
and limited activity in the area immediately surrounding the cross indicates
that archaeological deposits relating to its construction and use in this
location are likely to survive intact. While parts of the cross survive from
medieval times, its subsequent restoration illustrates its continued function
as a public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Kelley, J W, The Medieval Markets and Fairs of Leicestershire, (1985), 18-19
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Leicestershire and Rutland, (1960), 102

Source: Historic England

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