Ancient Monuments

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Village cross

A Scheduled Monument in Christian Malford, Wiltshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5077 / 51°30'27"N

Longitude: -2.0525 / 2°3'9"W

OS Eastings: 396450.799542

OS Northings: 178752.958125

OS Grid: ST964787

Mapcode National: GBR 2S0.HWL

Mapcode Global: VHB3N.CCSK

Entry Name: Village cross

Scheduled Date: 7 July 1959

Last Amended: 15 February 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018417

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28991

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Christian Malford

Built-Up Area: Christian Malford

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Christian Malford

Church of England Diocese: Bristol

Details

The monument includes a 15th century stone cross situated in a garden on the
former village green of Christian Malford in the clay vale to the north and
east of Chippenham. The cross, which is Listed Grade II, has a slightly
tapering octagonal shaft 2.2m high inserted into a lead lined socket set in a
square base 0.7m high. The base stands on a single stone step. The cap and
cross head are modern.
The shaft has been broken and is bound in the centre by iron clamps.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 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 cross on the former green at Christian Malford survives well in what is
likely to be its original position, and is a good example of a medieval cross.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Pevsner, N , The Buildings of England: Wiltshire, (1975), 178

Source: Historic England

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