|Hidden East Anglia: Home||
A Survey of Medieval (and earlier) Freestanding Crosses in Norfolk
Appendix One: Some analysis
Wayside cross names :
Of the known wayside crosses of Norfolk, 117 seem to have been given a name at some point in their history, the 13th century being the earliest recorded.
About 41% are clearly topographical in nature, named for the village they stood in (e.g. Northwold, Stanhoe, Titchwell); for the parish boundary they were located on (e.g. Aylmerton, Fring, Grimston); for the place to which the road they were on led (e.g. Catton, Largate, Marham); or for a specific spot location (e.g. Branteshaghe, Langwade, Oxwell.)
After these, the most common name appears to be 'Stump Cross', or some variant thereof - although it could be argued that this is merely a generic descriptor rather than an actual name. There are 14 of these. All simply describe a cross at the point at which it has lost some or all of its shaft, or perhaps just the cross finial. It can be difficult to determine just when such a name was first applied to any cross, as most sources are of post-medieval date. But there are at least six that were known as 'Stump Cross' before 1600, perhaps indicating their recent treatment at the hands of religious iconoclasts. At Aylmerton and Hellesdon, that name has long been forgotten due to modern restoration of the cross.
Throughout England, the most popular common name for a medieval standing cross seems to be 'White Cross'. Eleven of these are known to me in Norfolk - although there are another nine attached to 'possible' cross sites, evidence which makes me lean toward considering them as 'probable'. As I've said elsewhere, most stone crosses seem to have been fashioned from limestone, which would have gleamed brightly when new. Although this could explain the appellation, the ubiquitous use of that material makes me question why even more crosses don't have the 'White Cross' name.
Leaving aside those named after saints (or the dedication of the church near which they stood), there are eleven instances where the evidence suggests an eponymous origin for the name of a cross. Only one is certain, 'Sparkyscros' at Necton, erected by Walter Sparke. The de Blakeney and de Boteler families are commonly thought to be the eponyms for crosses at Roydon and Sandringham. The name 'Malkyn' may be responsible for 'Malkeny's Cross' in Norwich. I would also suggest the surnames Wright, Poye, Clog, Goodale, Scarle, Wynn, Hode and Peyke as the possible derivation of cross names at, in order, Barton Bendish, Gressenhall, Kempstone, Necton, Quidenham, Shouldham, Shropham and Terrington St. John.
The name (or descriptor) 'High Cross' occurs only twice in Norfolk (or four times if two 'possible' crosses are counted.) It seems to have been more prevalent in the Celtic areas of the country, and used elsewhere for various post-medieval features. There are two instances of 'Hey Cross', which might be explained by variable medieval spelling if it weren't for the fact that North Elmham possessed both 'High' and 'Hey' crosses.
There are others that, for the moment, remain enigmatic, such as Anngell, Dosse and Wormald Crosses.
Wayside cross locations:
There are or were 108 wayside crosses whose exact locations are known or can be reasonably inferred.
82 of these (76%) occur at a three-ways or crossroads. 31 (28.7%) are on a boundary of some kind, with 18 of those being specifically parish boundaries. Only two occur at a point where three parishes meet. 21 are at both a junction and a boundary.
Four occur on a bridge, while 29 are on a direct road to a church (i.e. no turn onto another road is required), and often within sight of the church.
Wayside & churchyard crosses: pedestal & shaft dimensions
Since so many of the surviving crosses share a common style with regard to shape of pedestal and shaft, I wondered if those commonalities extended to dimensions. It seems that most of the limestone used may have originated in the quarries at Barnack in Cambridgeshire - which were mostly played out by the 15th century - but were the cross components shaped and smoothed by local masons from blocks of a 'standard' size? The answer appears to be 'no', as most share dimensions with no more than a few others, and the range is quite wide.
There seems no appreciable difference between wayside and churchyard crosses, so the data for both has been combined. But, it has to be admitted, the dataset available is little more than a random sampling. I've only been able to obtain the width and depth measurements of 55 socket stones, and of those, only 39 where the full height could also be measured. Too many are either broken, or deeply embedded. The situation with shafts is even worse. Heights are impossible to gauge in any number, as so few have survived original and intact. What I have recorded therefore is the section, or width and depth of the shaft at its base where it enters the socket stone. Even then, I only have 32 examples. Compared to the many hundreds (if not thousands) of crosses that may have once existed in Norfolk the data is meagre in scope, but it may as well be recorded, even if no definitive conclusions can be reached.
Pedestal dimensions (all measurements in cms.)
It can be seen from the above that although most of the pedestals are square, nine are not. The differences between width and depth vary from as little as 2cms to as much as 13cms. It would seem that symmetry wasn't always a concern. Heights also vary between 33 and 62cms, and not in proportion to the other measurements.
Using the data from the 39 examples where all three dimensions were obtainable, the chart above shows the material volume of the pedestals in cubic metres. The smallest, at 0.08m3, is at Pentney, while the largest is the one at Houghton, at 0.48m3.
Shaft base dimensions (all measurements in cms.)
These have been roughly grouped by ascending similarity in size rather than alphabetically by location. Again, although the shaft sections are predominately square, a number are not, and there is very little consistency among them. Considering pedestals and shafts together there appears, from the limited data, to be no 'standard' size for a cross. Presumably whatever blocks were purchased from the limestone quarries were simply trimmed in accordance with local preference.