Ancient Monuments

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Market cross 44m north of the Town Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.3062 / 52°18'22"N

Longitude: -0.5927 / 0°35'33"W

OS Eastings: 496044.562579

OS Northings: 268496.084783

OS Grid: SP960684

Mapcode National: GBR DYK.DYM

Mapcode Global: VHFPD.P90D

Entry Name: Market cross 44m north of the Town Hall

Scheduled Date: 25 January 1927

Last Amended: 10 June 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016321

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29715

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Higham Ferrers

Built-Up Area: Higham Ferrers

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Higham Ferrers St Mary the Virgin

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


The monument includes the remains of the market cross located in the Market
Square, approximately 44m north of the Town Hall at Higham Ferrers. The
cross, which is Listed Grade I, is believed to be late 13th or 14th century in
date with later additions.
The base of the cross takes the form of a circular flight of steps with a
maximum diameter of approximately 4m and standing to about 3.5m in height.
However, only the lowest step is now visible, those above having been encased
in a masonry cone when the cross was repaired, probably early in the 20th
century. A tripartite arrangement of iron stays is embedded in the cone. The
stays, which once carried three lamps, have an ornamented brace and terminate
in a collar supporting the shaft.
For the greater part of its height of 4m the shaft is octagonal in plan, but
is circular at the top. The ball flower capital is surmounted by a modern
square abacus or platform.
The modern surfacing within the monument's protective margin is excluded from
the scheduling although the ground beneath it 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 remains of the market cross 44m north of the Town Hall represent a good
example of a medieval market cross located in or near its original position.
Limited activity in the area immediately surrounding the cross indicates that
archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use in
this location are likely to survive intact as buried features. While most of
the cross has survived from medieval times, its subsequent restoration
illustrates its continued function as a public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Northamptonshire, (1930), 263

Source: Historic England

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