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A Survey of Medieval (and earlier) Freestanding Crosses in Norfolk

 Norfolk Cross Survey: Contents

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.)

Location

Width

Depth

Height

 

Location

Width

Depth

Height

Aylmerton

63

63

41

 

Itteringham

68

72

39

Beachamwell (nr ch/yard)

75

73

 

 

Middleton (SW of ch/yard)

55

55

39

Binham (Cockthorpe)

70

70

 

 

N. Walsham (tall cross)

71

71

 

Brinton (Sharrington)

83

83

 

 

N. Walsham (Stump Cross)

71

71

33

Caston

77

77

38

 

Northrepps

91

91

41

Clenchwarton 66 66 33   Northwold 73 73 60
Colby 70 70 43   Norwich (Hellesdon ch/yard) 66 66 42
Croxton 77 77 40   Pentney 40 40 50
Dersingham 70 83     Quidenham (Hargham) 72 72  
Downham Mkt (Bexwell) 62 65 38   Quidenham (White Cross 71 71  
Drayton 79 79 45   Salthouse 94 94 38
Dunton (Toftrees) 78 78     Sandringham 66 66 50
East Walton 66 61 40   Southery 72 72 60
Field Dalling (lower block) 66 66 43   Southrepps 59 59 43
Field Dalling (upper block) 55 55 62   Stow Bedon 77 77 40
Fincham 66 66 60   Swafield (Bradfield) 72 72 47
Foulden 75 75 44   Swafield 72 66  
Fransham 68 68 45   Thetford (Barnham Cross) 81 81 43
Great Snoring 81 81     Tilney All Sts (S of ch/yard) 63 54  
Guestwick 66 66     Titchwell 72 72 48
Hemsby (N of ch/yard) 72 72 40   Walsingham 67 69  
Hemsby (W of ch/yard) 69 69 35   Walsoken 65 72 37
Hemsby (roadside) 70 70     Warham 68 68  
Hockwold 66 66 38   Weeting 73 73 40
Honing 76 76 38   W. Walton (N of path) 70 70 50
Houghton 90 90 60   W. Walton (S of path) 63 63 42
Hunstanton 76 76     Wormegay (lower block) 72 72 48
Ingoldisthorpe 88 88 45          

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 2cm to as much as 13cm. It would seem that symmetry wasn't always a concern. Heights also vary between 33 and 62cm, 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.)

Location

Section

 

Location

Section

Clenchwarton

21x21

 

Tilney All Sts (S of ch/yard)

31x23

Tilney All Sts (W of ch/yard)

23x16

 

Weeting

31x23

Walsoken

23x16

 

Field Dalling

32x32

South Acre

24x22

 

N. Walsham (Stump Cross)

32x32

Hockwold

26x26

 

Titchwell

32x32

Swafield

26x28

 

Brinton (Sharrington)

33x33

Southrepps

27x27

 

Houghton

33x33

Dunton (Toftrees)

28x28

 

Drayton

34x34

Quidenham (White Cross)

28x28

 

Ingoldisthorpe

34x34

N. Walsham (tall cross)

29x29

 

Beachamwell (Pinetrees)

35x35

Terrington St. John

29x29

 

Pentney

35x35

Colby

30x24

 

Quidenham (Hargham)

36x33

Fincham

30x30

 

Hemsby (roadside)

37x35

Foulden

30x30

 

Langley (Hardley Cross)

40x40

Guestwick

30x30

 

 

 

Honing

30x30

 

 

 

Northwold

30x30

 

 

 

Wormegay

30x30

 

 

 

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.

   

Appendix Two

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