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Medieval village cross 100m north east of St Martin's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Bremhill, Wiltshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4568 / 51°27'24"N

Longitude: -2.0298 / 2°1'47"W

OS Eastings: 398027.944131

OS Northings: 173096.466291

OS Grid: ST980730

Mapcode National: GBR 2SM.PMW

Mapcode Global: VHB3V.RNT1

Entry Name: Medieval village cross 100m north east of St Martin's Church

Scheduled Date: 17 March 1958

Last Amended: 24 January 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019506

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34186

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 village cross situated in the centre of
Bremhill, a small village on a north east facing slope to the east of
Chippenham.
The cross comprises a base set on three steps, with a shaft surmounted by a
cross. The steps, base and shaft are all octagonal in plan. The steps, which
are 3m, 2.1m and 1.4m across, are worn to the extent that the upper surfaces
are concave. The base is 1m in diameter with a socket into which the shaft is
inserted. The shaft, 0.3m wide at the base, tapers relatively sharply towards
the top where it is hooded and surmounted by a stone cross. The cross is
Listed Grade II.
The churchyard cross 60m to the SSW is the subject of a separate scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT
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 village cross 100m north east of St Martin's Church is a well-preserved
example of its type which has stood in the centre of the village for many
centuries. The considerable wear on the steps is testament to the importance
of the cross over these years.

Source: Historic England

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