Ancient Monuments

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Cross in All Saints churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.6723 / 52°40'20"N

Longitude: 0.1834 / 0°11'0"E

OS Eastings: 547724.865965

OS Northings: 310528.915104

OS Grid: TF477105

Mapcode National: GBR M32.K4Q

Mapcode Global: WHJPH.S3H4

Entry Name: Cross in All Saints churchyard

Scheduled Date: 29 September 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018313

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31124

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Wisbech

Built-Up Area: Wisbech

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Walsoken All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross located within
the churchyard of All Saints Church, approximately 4m to the south of the
priest's door and 8m to the south east of the south porch of the church. The
cross, which is Listed Grade II, is medieval in date and includes the base
plinth, the socket stone and the lower part of the shaft.

The base plinth, which is set into the ground diagonally to the church,
measures 1.1m north west-south east by 0.92m north east-south west. The socket
stone rests on the plinth and is square to the church. It is 0.34m in height
and measures 0.7m east-west by 0.64m north-south and is chamfered to a
slightly smaller square on the surface. The lower part of the shaft is
mortised into the socket stone and bonded with lead. It measures 0.29m east-
west by 0.23m north-south at the base, rising through chamfered corners to an
octagonal section, and is 0.56m high. The full height of the cross in its
present form is 0.9m.

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 All Saints is a good example of a medieval standing
cross with a rectangular socket stone and octagonal shaft. Located
immediately to the south of the priest's door and to the south east of the
south porch of the church it is believed to stand at or near to its original
position. The cross shows no evidence of restoration but has continued in use
as a public monument and amenity from medieval times to the present day.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cozens-Hardy, , 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Norfolk Crosses, , Vol. 25, (1935), 328

Source: Historic England

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