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Medieval cross 30m north east of St Martin's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Bremhill, Wiltshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4563 / 51°27'22"N

Longitude: -2.0302 / 2°1'48"W

OS Eastings: 397997.049002

OS Northings: 173033.8015

OS Grid: ST979730

Mapcode National: GBR 2SM.PJS

Mapcode Global: VHB3V.RNKG

Entry Name: Medieval cross 30m north east of St Martin's Church

Scheduled Date: 29 October 1957

Last Amended: 24 January 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019505

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34185

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Bremhill

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Bremhill

Church of England Diocese: Salisbury

Details

The monument includes a medieval cross in St Martin's churchyard at Bremhill,
a small estate village set on a north east facing slope to the east of
Chippenham.
The cross comprises a square base set on a plinth 1.4m across. The four top
corners of the base are partly chamfered and moulded to form an octagon. The
shaft, which rises from a socket in the base, is octagonal and tapers slightly
from the base where it is 0.35m in diameter. The shaft is surmounted by a
small square sundial, topped with a ball, the entire structure being
approximately 3.65m high. The cross is Listed Grade II.
The sundial is not original and was probably placed there in the early years
of the 19th century by the Revd William Bowles, who found it at Grange Farm.
He records that the original cross head was found broken and buried at the
base in the late 18th century. It was set up in the churchyard at the time but
is now lost.
The village cross 60m to the NNE is the subject of a separate scheduling.

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 medieval cross 30m north east of St Martin's Church is a well-preserved
and almost complete example of a churchyard cross standing in its original
position to the north east of the church.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Bowles, W L, The Parochial history of Bremhill, (1828), 251
Marsh, A E W, A History of the Borough and Town of Calne, (1903), 219-222

Source: Historic England

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