Ancient Monuments

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Village cross 50m east of St Mary's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Beachamwell, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.6176 / 52°37'3"N

Longitude: 0.5852 / 0°35'6"E

OS Eastings: 575110.272001

OS Northings: 305338.613001

OS Grid: TF751053

Mapcode National: GBR P6V.YKC

Mapcode Global: WHKR0.YGVN

Entry Name: Village cross 50m east of St Mary's Church

Scheduled Date: 2 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016695

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30564

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Beachamwell

Built-Up Area: Beachamwell

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Beachamwell St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes the remains of a medieval village cross situated on
Beachamwell village green, approximately 0.6m from the east wall of St Mary's
churchyard. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, includes the lower part of
the cross shaft supported on a socket stone. The socket stone which forms the
base of the cross is aligned NNW-SSE, at an angle to the line of the
churchyard wall. It stands 0.33m above the ground surface and measures
approximately 0.7m square. The surface is weathered, but shows traces of
chamfering around the upper edge. The surviving part of the cross shaft is
rectangular in cross section, measuring 0.34m by 0.17m, and is 0.56m in
height, set WSW-ENE into a slightly larger rectangular socket in the upper
surface of the base.
The cross stood formerly at the opposite end of the green, approximately 100m
to the east of its present position. In the mid-19th century it was moved from
there to a site approximately 670m to the north east, where it was set up as a
glebe boundary marker and the letter G incised on what is now the south east
face of the socket stone. It was returned to the green in 1981.
A small stake carrying an information panel set close to the eastern face of
the socket stone is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath
it is included.

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.

The village cross which stands on Beachamwell village green is a good example
of this class of monument, and although it is known to have been moved, it
stands near to its original site and has retained its character as a public
monument throughout its recorded history. It is of unusually simple form, as
compared with that of a second medieval cross which stands approximately 500m
to the north east, near the intersection of three roads.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cozens-Hardy, , 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Norfolk Crosses, , Vol. 25, (1935), 301-302

Source: Historic England

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