Ancient Monuments

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Midsands Cross on Crosstead road

A Scheduled Monument in Yarmouth North, Norfolk

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Latitude: 52.6293 / 52°37'45"N

Longitude: 1.73 / 1°43'47"E

OS Eastings: 652516.675

OS Northings: 310039.373

OS Grid: TG525100

Mapcode National: GBR YQP.07D

Mapcode Global: WHNVZ.K50M

Entry Name: Midsands Cross on Crosstead road

Scheduled Date: 9 September 1936

Last Amended: 10 June 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018317

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31132

County: Norfolk

Electoral Ward/Division: Yarmouth North

Built-Up Area: Great Yarmouth

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: Great Yarmouth

Church of England Diocese: Norwich


The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross, located on the
pavement of 19 Crosstead road in a housing estate. It is sited approximately
1km west of the coastline. The remains of the cross are thought to date from
the late 13th century and include a single block of mortared pebbles and flint
which incorporates the foundation plinth and the two tiered base.

The foundation plinth is circular in plan; it measures 3.3m in diameter and
0.5m high. This plinth was originally below the ground level and soil was
heaped over it to form a low mound, approximately 10.7m in diameter. The mound
was excavated and removed prior to development of the area. The cross base is
built onto the plinth. It it also constructed of pebbles and flint mortared
together. The base tier measures 1.8m square at the base and tapers upwards to
a height of 1.3m. The upper tier measures 1m east-west by 0.89m north-south at
the base tapering up to 0.78m square on the surface and is 0.78m high. The
full height of the cross in its present form is approximately 2.58m.

The monument is thought to represent the cross which formerly marked the
northern limit of the borough of Great Yarmouth. The cross stood near the
southern edge of Grubb's Haven, the old channel of the River Bure that
separated Yarmouth from Caister and which is frequently mentioned in the
boundary disputes between the two towns from the late 13th to the 16th
centuries. The surviving cross base is believed to represent the flint and
mortar core which would have originally been faced with stone.

The surface of the pavement, where it falls within the monument's protective
margin, and the brick post about 1m to the west of the cross are excluded from
the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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 Midsands Cross at Great Yarmouth is a good example of a medieval standing
cross with a circular foundation plinth and a tiered base. Marking the former
boundary between Great Yarmouth and Caister it is believed to stand in or near
to its original position. The composition of the cross base (pebbles and
flints mortared together) represents an unusual type of which only a few
examples are known in Norfolk. The cross has not been significantly restored
but has continued in use as a public monument from medieval times up to the
present day.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cozens-Hardy, , 'Norfolk Archaeology' in Norfolk Crosses, , Vol. 25, (1935), 332-333
Card in SMR file, Green, C, (1962)
Letter in SMR file, Rye, G, (1961)
Newspaper article in SMR file, Green, C, The Cross in the Midsands: A Yarmouth Caister Boundary Dispute, (1961)

Source: Historic England

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