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Cross in St Mary's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Hellesdon, Norfolk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.6487 / 52°38'55"N

Longitude: 1.2518 / 1°15'6"E

OS Eastings: 620067.134287

OS Northings: 310630.776223

OS Grid: TG200106

Mapcode National: GBR W2F.MT

Mapcode Global: WHMTF.6PB8

Entry Name: Cross in St Mary's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 10 September 1962

Last Amended: 24 July 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018304

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31139

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Hellesdon

Built-Up Area: Norwich

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Hellesdon St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Norwich

Details

The monument includes a standing stone cross, located within the churchyard of
St Mary's Church, approximately 12m to the north east of the north east
corner of the church on ground which slopes to the west. The cross is medieval
in date, with some later additions. It includes the pedestal base, the socket
stone, the shaft, the capital and the head.
The modern pedestal base is constructed of dressed flint. The socket stone is
mortared to the surface of the pedestal base and is square at the base, rising
through chamfered corners with stop angles to an octagonal section on the
surface. Both the pedestal base and the socket stone measure 0.72m square and
0.42m high. The shaft is mortised into the socket stone and measures 0.3m
square at the base tapering upwards through moulded corners to a height of
2.32m. The capital is also square in section and joins the shaft to the head,
which takes the form of a simple cross facing east and west. The capital
measures about 0.3m high by 0.35m wide and the head measures about 0.35m high
and 0.25m wide. Both the pedestal base, the capital and head are modern
additions to the cross. The full height of the cross in its present form is
approximately 3.81m.
The gravestone to the north of the cross is excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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 churchyard cross at St Mary's is a good example of a medieval standing
cross with a square to octagonal socket stone and a square to octagonal shaft.
Located to the north east of the chancel it is believed to stand on or near to
its original position. Much of the cross has survived from medieval times and
subsequent restoration has resulted in its continued function as a public
monument and amenity. It has additional interest as one of two crosses within
the parish, the second, which is situated at the junction some 780m to the
north east, being the subject of a separate scheduling.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Cozens-Hardy, , 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Norfolk Crosses, , Vol. 25, (1935), 321-322

Source: Historic England

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