Ancient Monuments

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Village cross, 70m north west of the Holy Cross Church

A Scheduled Monument in Caston, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.5408 / 52°32'26"N

Longitude: 0.8872 / 0°53'13"E

OS Eastings: 595889.065771

OS Northings: 297578.400195

OS Grid: TL958975

Mapcode National: GBR SD6.P3W

Mapcode Global: VHKBW.BDCK

Entry Name: Village cross, 70m north west of the Holy Cross Church

Scheduled Date: 18 January 1977

Last Amended: 19 March 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018105

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31116

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Caston

Built-Up Area: Caston

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Caston St Cross

Church of England Diocese: Norwich


The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross, located towards
the north east corner of the village green, approximately 15m to the west of
the Red Lion Public House and 70m to the north west of Holy Cross Church. The
cross, which is Listed Grade II, is principally 15th century in date with some
later additions. It includes the two tiered base and the socket stone.

The lower tier of the base is circular in plan and is constructed of worked
stone; it measures 1.8m in diameter and 0.96m high. The upper tier is also
circular in plan and is constructed of bricks; it measures 1.24m in diameter
and 0.96m high. Both tiers are topped by stone slabs with projecting moulding
around the edges, and both show evidence of repair work. The socket stone
rests on the upper tier and is square in plan, orientated north east, south
west-north west, south east. It measures 0.8m in diameter and 0.47m high. The
four sides of the socket stone each have decoration of blank arcading with two
cinquefoils in the centre and two smaller trefoils on each side. The socket
hole, cut into the top of the socket stone, measures 0.4m square and has been
filled with concrete. The full height of the cross in its present form is
approximately 2.34m.

The Church of the Holy Cross, 70m to the south east, is thought to be situated
along one of the ancient pilgrimage routes to Walsingham and the cross may
mark the route to the church. A number of skeletons have been dug up from the
area around the cross, during the excavation of service trenches.

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 village cross at Caston is a good example of a medieval standing cross
with a circular tiered base, and a decorated square socket stone. Situated at
the north east end of the village green and about 70m to the north west of
Holy Cross Church, it is believed to stand in or near to its original
position. Many of the wayside crosses in Norfolk are situated along the
pilgrimage routes to Walsingham. The discovery of burials in the area around
the cross give it additional interest. The cross has not been significantly
restored and has continued in use as a public monument from the medieval

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cozens-Hardy, , 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Norfolk Crosses, , Vol. 25, (1935), 304-5
Paper in SMR File, Barnes, JS, The Mystery of Caston's Cross, (1978)

Source: Historic England

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