Ancient Monuments

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Medieval standing cross near the junction of the High Street and Gold Street, 240m south east of St Mary's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Stalbridge, Dorset

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Latitude: 50.9608 / 50°57'38"N

Longitude: -2.3789 / 2°22'43"W

OS Eastings: 373488.562502

OS Northings: 117997.086

OS Grid: ST734179

Mapcode National: GBR 0WH.RCK

Mapcode Global: FRA 56XK.T7S

Entry Name: Medieval standing cross near the junction of the High Street and Gold Street, 240m south east of St Mary's Church

Scheduled Date: 21 November 1924

Last Amended: 24 July 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014850

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27391

County: Dorset

Civil Parish: Stalbridge

Built-Up Area: Stalbridge

Traditional County: Dorset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Dorset

Church of England Parish: Stalbridge St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury


The monument includes a stone cross, dated to the second half of the 15th
century, situated 240m south east of St Mary's Church, Stalbridge on the
eastern side of the High Street at its widest point near a road junction.
The cross has an octagonal base of three steps above an octagonal chamfered
plinth of which 0.14m is visible above the pavement. The bottom step consists
of one large block 0.26m deep overlain by single thinner slabs, up to 0.14m
deep. Each side is c.1.2m long. The second step is up to 0.17m deep, sloping
up to the centre, and each side is c.0.9m long. The upper step is 0.18m deep,
sloping up to the centre, and each side is 0.7m long. Above this is a square
plinth with a chamfered base, 0.52m high and c.1m square, with mouldings on
each corner. There were previously carvings visible on each face but these are
now worn. The tapering cross shaft is square at its base, 0.45m square, and
octagonal above. A corbel projecting from the west face supports a carved
figure which is now too worn to be recognised. The cross head is a modern
replacement of the original which fell down in 1950. This is recorded in a
plaque at the base which reads `This is a 15th century cross (built of
Marnhull stone). The top was replaced in 1950'.
The cobbled and paved areas surrounding the cross are excluded from the
scheduling, where they fall within the cross's protective margin, although the
ground beneath these features is included.
The cross is Listed Grade II*.

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.

Despite the fact that the head has been replaced, the medieval standing cross
240m south east of St Mary's, Stalbridge, is well preserved and, surviving in
its original position, remains an important example of its class.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hutchins, J, History of Dorset: Volume III, (1861), 674

Source: Historic England

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