Ancient Monuments

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Brixworth market cross

A Scheduled Monument in Brixworth, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.3329 / 52°19'58"N

Longitude: -0.9047 / 0°54'16"W

OS Eastings: 474730.843248

OS Northings: 271103.55867

OS Grid: SP747711

Mapcode National: GBR BV3.L41

Mapcode Global: VHDRL.8MLF

Entry Name: Brixworth market cross

Scheduled Date: 11 May 1978

Last Amended: 4 February 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018860

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29734

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Brixworth

Built-Up Area: Brixworth

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Brixworth All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


The monument includes a standing stone cross situated on the south side of
Church Street, immediately to the east of its junction with Cross Hill.
In plan the cross base is octagonal, rising in four steps of block
construction. The treads of the lower three show considerable signs of wear,
particularly on the northern side. The base supports a square socket stone
with carved decoration to the upper corners. The north face is incised with
the date 1727, commemorating the accession of George III. Morticed into the
socket stone, the stump - approximately 70cm high - of the original shaft is
square in plan, chamfered to an octagon.
The architectural style of the cross, which is Listed Grade II, suggests a
construction date between the 14th and 16th centuries, with some resetting in
the earlier part of the 20th century.
All modern road and path surfaces where they fall within the monument's
protective margin 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.

Brixworth market cross is a well preserved example of a standing cross with an
octagonal stepped base and chamfered shaft located in or near its original
position. Archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and
use in this location are likely to survive as buried features. Most of the
cross has survived from medieval times and it continues to function as a
public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Association of Architects Soc. Reports' in Brixworth Market Cross, , Vol. 37, (1895), 116

Source: Historic England

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