Ancient Monuments

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Wayside Cross 550m north east of St Mary's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Beachamwell, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.6215 / 52°37'17"N

Longitude: 0.5898 / 0°35'23"E

OS Eastings: 575403.189452

OS Northings: 305783.473937

OS Grid: TF754057

Mapcode National: GBR P6V.RWQ

Mapcode Global: WHKR1.1C4N

Entry Name: Wayside Cross 550m north east of St Mary's Church

Scheduled Date: 2 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016696

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30565

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 a medieval standing cross situated on the northern side
of the road which leads from the Swaffham Road to the village, approximately
65m north west of the junction between this road and two others. The cross,
which is Listed Grade II, includes a socket stone and the lower part of the
cross shaft, both of limestone. The socket stone at the base is now largely
buried but the upper surface of it is partly visible and is roughly square,
measuring about 0.7m across. It supports the surviving part of the shaft,
set into a square socket in the upper surface of the stone. The shaft stands
to a height of 1.4m above this and is approximately 0.34m square at the base,
rising through weathered stop angles to a slightly tapering octagonal column.

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 cross 550m north east of St Mary's Church is a good example of this class
of monument and, as it is believed to stand on or very close to its original
site, it is likely that deposits relating to its construction and later use
will survive beneath and immediately around it. It has additional interest as
one of two medieval crosses associated with the village, the other, which is
of simpler form, being situated on the village green, approximately 500m to
the south west.

Source: Historic England


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

Source: Historic England

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