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

  Norfolk Cross Survey: Contents

The Survey Parish by Parish: A - B

(Ashwellthorpe to Burnham Thorpe)

     

Ashwellthorpe & Fundenhall

(Possible cross site)

 

 

The 1840 tithe award for Fundenhall1 gives fields 278-281 the name of 'Potapher' or 'Petapher Cross' (the handwriting isn't that clear.) These were in the area of TM15779653, just east of the junction of the B1113 and a track to The Grange. Although this track is now private and to the Grange only, it used to continue on to join up with Church Lane. The fields are also just south of the meeting of the B1113 and Fundenhall Road, a spot known as Rattee's Corner. According to Faden's 1797 map of Norfolk2, there also used to be a third road joining the B1113 between these two points. No trace remains of a cross, but any of these junctions would have been a good place for it to have been sited. 

Blomefield3 tells us that one William Petifer, chaplain of Fundenhall, was buried beneath the tower of St. Nicholas' church in 1374. Given the fluidity of spelling over the centuries, he or another of his surname seems a likely origin for the name of the field, and perhaps a cross. 

PastScape has a separate entry and monument number for another possible cross site here, an area called 'Crosshills' in the tithe award. Fields 222, 223 and 288 go by this name, being either side of Church Lane, and just to the east of Fundenhall church (approx. TM15619694.) However, this area slopes gently upwards from the B1113, and lies only the road and one field away from 'Potapher/Petapher Cross', which leads me to think that both named areas refer to the same possible cross site. 

1. Nat Arch, Kew: IR 29/23/227

2. William Faden: 'A New Topographical Map of the County of Norfolk' (1797); ed. J.C. Barringer, Larks Press, 1989.

3. Blomefield: Vol.5 (1806), p.174.

     

Attleborough 

(Documented record of cross)

 

 

Many crosses were made of stone, some of wood, but there are sparse records of stone crosses that had a wooden component. That which used to stand in the churchyard at St. Mary's (TM04889539) is the only one that I've found for Norfolk. According to Blomefield1 "In 1632, the wooden top of the cross in the church-yard was made by John Forbie, clerk, by the appointment of the Bishop of Norwich..." This was probably a double-sided panel with a gable roof, and from Blomefield's description, brightly painted with religious imagery and phrases. A globe was also depicted, with the upper half blue to signify the heavens, and the lower half green to represent the earth. 

1. Blomefield: Vol.1 (1805), p.535.
     

Attlebridge 

(Doubtful remains of cross)

 

 

Date of visit: 19/10/18.

The NHER (Norfolk Historic Environment Record) entry for St. Andrew's church (No.7748) contains the line "The cross remains outside the porch." If the object currently in that location is intended, I have doubts that it was ever part of a cross. It rests at the edge of a slope just to the left of the porch doorway (TG1293516854), and is a solid block measuring 46cm x 46cm across the top, and 26cm high. I managed to turn it over, and there is no trace of any mortise hole that could have held a shaft. In addition, the whole thing is six-sided, which I have never come across before or since, there are two extruding layers of mortar, and the upper surface has been carved so that each angle is a projecting, pointed 'lobe'. It seems more likely to be part of the base of a font, or perhaps the lower section of a column.

     

Aylmerton 

(Complete but restored cross)

 

 

Date of visit: 15/8/16.

Aylmerton Cross - sometimes called Gresham Cross - stands at a crossways on the boundary between those two parishes (at TG1808638794.) In the early 1800s it was referred to as a 'stump cross', as only the base and socket stone remained of the medieval original. Now, after being blown down in a gale, hit by a vehicle, and restored and rendered several times, it stands almost 4m high overall. A track now called Mill Lane, along which the boundary runs, heads roughly westward from the cross, said to be part of a route once taken by pilgrims travelling to the shrines at Walsingham. A recess or niche in the base of the cross - 43cm x 21cm x 7cm deep - is thought to be where votive offerings were placed by those travellers.

 

The whole thing stands on a plinth 1.9m square, with 16cm currently visible above ground. Upon that stands the base, 90cm square and 44cm high, then the two-stage socket stone. The lower stage is 63cm square, 41cm high, and has a 'scalloped' or 'crenellated' moulding around the top edge, while the upper stage, which has stop-angles, measures 54cm square, and 24cm high. The modern shaft, octagonal in section, is 35cm square at the bottom, and stands 2.74m high including the ornate capital and cross. Gresham Cross appears elsewhere on this website, due to the legend of a secret tunnel and a golden treasure connected with it.

     

Bacton 

(Remains of cross)
  St. Clement's church, Keswick, used to stand at TG35123335, in the angle between Keswick Road and Walcott Road. In medieval times the shoreline was nearer, and the church was ruined by the sea in 1382 - although the ruins were still visible in the late 18th century. A modern house known as 'Captain's Haunt' now stands on part of the site, with the decorated, 'Perpendicular-style' socket stone of a cross by the back door (at least, it was there in the late 1970s.) This was apparently found beneath the doorstep of the house. The NHER record (No.7088) suggests that maybe the cross was erected here after the church was ruined, to mark its site. I guess this is because Perpendicular Gothic - as that style is properly called - was a phase generally lasting from the late 14th to the early 16th century, and thus later than the demise of the church. However, examples of that style in England are known as far back as 1332, so it's possible that it may simply have been a standard churchyard cross.
     

Banham 

(Documented record of crosses)

 

 

Blomefield1 says that, at Banham, "The crosses were Smalmor Cross, White Cross, Atte Borghe, and Alforthe Cross." Cozens-Hardy theorized that 'Alforthe Cross' had been corrupted over time to Over Cross, a crossroads at TM05908898, just north-west of the village. PastScape agrees, and indeed it's probably correct, as Blomefield also mentions3 a piece of land that "abuts on the way leading from Alforth Cross to Banham Moor", which would fit for that location. 'Alforth' itself may be a corruption of 'old ford', and the little bridge over a stream only a hundred metres away suggests the presence of such a ford in the past.

 

Just after recording these crosses, Blomefield mentions many bequests left in the 1429 will of Peter Payn, including "to mend Hardewyk way in Banham 40 shillings, and 40 shillings more to set up a cross at the end of it, where the way parts." This must presumably refer to one of the crosses above. 'Hardewyk way' became Hardwick Road, which is now New Buckenham Road, running from Mill Road in Banham to New Buckenham village. "Where the way parts" is, I'm fairly certain, at TM07308948, the junction of Mill Road, New Buckenham Road, and the road to Over Cross.

 

My theory is that the cross curiously named 'Atte Borghe' stood to the north of Over Cross, at TM06198961. Here the parish boundaries of Banham, Wilby and Old Buckenham met, and Banham Road is crossed by the line of an ancient track that ran from Larlingford to New Buckenham. (This same track - there known as Sandy Lane - had another cross beside it at Snetterton.) 'Borghe' is a word that I've seen in other old documents as a misspelling of 'burgh', there meaning a hill or mound. In the field in the south-west angle of this old crossroads are the almost-vanished traces of a large Bronze Age barrow, a mound that was also used for burials in the early Saxon period, and the only one known in the parish. 'Atte Borghe' would therefore be a useful way for locals to refer to 'the cross at the mound'.

 

'Smalmor' is a known place-name from other regions and probably derives from Old English smæl and mor, meaning a small marsh or barren area. This is likely to have been somewhere other than Banham Moor, but its actual location is unknown to me.

 

1. Blomefield: Vol.1 (1805), p.357.

2. Ibid, p.358.

   

 

Barford 

(Documented record of cross)

 

 

From information in the Bolingbroke Collection1 in the Norfolk Record Office, the NHER notes a wayside cross having once stood in this parish, "by the Hingham road" (NHER No.12240.) This is the current Watton Road, the B1108. There also exists the 1501 will of Thomas Bachecroft of Little Melton2, in which he left money to have a cross erected on Barford Bridge. As the bridge (at TG11440731) is also on the B1108, it seems likely that this is the same cross. (In that same will he bestowed a cross on or near Earlham Bridge at Norwich.)

 

1. NRO: BOL 4

2. NRO: NCR 1/20 r.64

   

 

Barnham Broom 

(Documented record of cross)

 

 

Cozens-Hardy noted an 'Extent of the Manor of Brighteves' (also known as Hauteyns) dating from 1543-4 in which two plots of land were said to lie near 'Farthing Cross'.1 Apparently the 'public highway' ran through them, but no specific location was given. Although I initially regarded this as no more than a potential cross site put forward by Cozens-Hardy, I've noted another reference, from more than a century earlier, which now convinces me that this was an actual freestanding cross.

 

I find that a conveyance dated June 10th 1433 mentions an acre of land at "Ferthyngcros, Barnham Risks".2 In the early medieval period the manor of Hauteyns was known as 'Bernham Ryskys' - named for the profusion of rushes growing by the riverbank - a name which Blomefield tells us also applied to "the hamlet and church thereto belonging".3 The Old Hall stands on the site of the original manor house, while the now-vanished church of St. Michael was in the current churchyard of SS Peter and Paul. Since the 'Ferthyngcros' name was clearly extant long before 1433, it had to have denoted a religious cross rather than a junction. The village itself is built around a central crossroads at TG08000745, which is where I suspect Farthing Cross once stood.

 

1. NRO: N/MC 1/45

2. NRO: N/MC 1/41

3. Blomefield: Vol.2 (1805), p.381.

   

 

Barsham 

(Site of cross)

 

 

In the 1839 tithe award for East Barsham1 fields 73 and 76 are named as 'Preaching Cross'. These are on the north side of the crossroads at TF91493181 just north of Fakenham, which is also the meeting point of Barsham, Sculthorpe and Fakenham parishes. By itself, it's just a suggestive name, but the NHER also records an undated note in Norwich Castle Museum about the shaft and pedestal of a stone cross being found here (NHER No.15477.) What has happened to them I don't know, but they don't seem to be listed in the Norfolk Museums Collections. The north-south road at this point is likely to have been one of the several routes favoured by pilgrims heading for the shrine at Little Walsingham.

 

Possibly connected is a grant dating from 1496, in which land at 'Marchall Cros' was given by John Smyth of East Barsham to Robert Knyght of Walsingham.2

 

1. NRO: ANL 1/6

2. Nat Arch, Kew: E 40/2883

   

 

Barton Bendish 

(Possible cross sites)

 

 

As part of an intensive survey of this parish by a group of archaeologists, documentary research1 has helped to reconstruct a map of Barton Bendish as it was in about 1612. Information in particular from a 17th century 'Extent' or valuation of land2 has revealed the possible presence of a number of crosses.

 

South of the modern village was a main south-west to north-east road called Micklegate, most of which no longer exists. Three possible crosses stood at crossroads along Micklegate, but the position of only one can be pinpointed. This was at TF71280460, and was known variously as Wilsted, Worsted, or Wilford Cross. Nowadays this spot is where a field track meets a right-angled turn of Boughton Long Road, while Micklegate only survives here as a slightly sunken and hedged field boundary. A little further east was Gent's Cross, which I place at c.TF71550469, then eastward again was Stone Cross, at perhaps c.TF721049. Somewhere in the east of the parish - perhaps on the boundary with Beachamwell? - was Stubs or Machins Cross. It's possible of course that all of these were just named crossroads, although it seems highly likely that Stone Cross, at least, was an actual structure.

 

1. Alan Davison in 'Barton Bendish and Caldecote: fieldwork in south-west Norfolk', in East Anglian Archaeology Report No. 80 (Norfolk Archaeological Unit, 1997), p.32-5.

2. NRO: HARE 189, 185X4

   

 

Barton Bendish 

(Documented record of cross)

 

 

As an example of Barton Bendish place-names recorded in the 14th century but no longer in use by the 17th, the location 'Wrytyscrosse' is noted by Davison.1 From its early date this has to be an actual cross, and I would offer that the name might be a corruption of 'Wright-his-cross', or even 'Wrighty's Cross', in the same way that we get 'Sparky's Cross' at Necton.

 

1. Alan Davison in 'Barton Bendish and Caldecote: fieldwork in south-west Norfolk', in East Anglian Archaeology Report No. 80 (Norfolk Archaeological Unit, 1997), p.38.

   

 

Beachamwell 

(Remains of cross)

 

 

Date of visit: 27/9/18.

This limestone cross stands on the north side of Shingham Lane, about 60m north-west of what's known as the Pinetrees crossroads - actually a 6-way junction of roads and tracks - at TF7539805779. Although no longer visible above ground, the socket stone is about 70cm square. The shaft, of which 1.4m remains, is 35cm square at the bottom, becoming octagonal in section, measuring 28cm across at the top. Only a shallow dip in the top now survives to show where the next section of shaft was mortised in. Originally the cross was slightly closer to the roadside, but was moved after being knocked down by a cart c.1910.

   

 

Beachamwell 

(Doubtful remains of cross)

 

 

Date of visit: 8/7/19.

Cozens-Hardy mentions "a fragment of the arm of a cross" within St. Mary's church which some thought - "without any evidence" - had once belonged to the cross at Pinetrees crossroads. A note from 1985 on PastScape records a carved fragment that was then held within the church tower, and which was thought to perhaps be the same object. There it's described as possibly "the remains of a cross head, but the dimensions and shaft section plan are completely dissimilar to the shaft [at Pinetrees.]"

 

I was unable to access the tower on my visit, but gathered on the steps of the unused south door is a small collection of pieces of medieval (and later) masonry (TF7505705344.) It may be that the object in my photo is neither of the fragments mentioned above, but there's a vague possibility of it being the end of an elaborate cross-arm. If so, it belonged to a very large cross, as what remains measures 36cm x 35cm x 9cm thick.

     

Beachamwell 

(Possible remains of cross)

 

 

Date of visit: 8/7/19.

Beneath an octagonal 14th (or 15th) century belfry, St. Mary's church has a possible late Saxon round tower. In this 11th (or 12th) century section there is a double-arched opening at each of the four cardinal points of the original belfry. The church guide remarks that "All four are divided by shafts, of which the western is circular, the rest being 'squared'. That on the east is carved and may have begun life as part of a standing cross".1

 

I traced this assertion back to G.B. Brown in 1925, who indeed called it "the carved shaft of an old [Saxon] churchyard cross".2 The interlaced carving or 'plaitwork' certainly indicates a late Saxon origin, but in 1922, Cyril Fox3 had declared it to be part of a grave-cover rather than a cross. In 1965, the seminal work by the Taylors merely says that it shows "traces of carving like a re-used grave slab".4 Viewed from ground level, the vertical edges of this 'mid-wall shaft' seem to be slightly convex in shape, a feature that I'm unfamiliar with in either cross or grave-cover. Which it might be - or neither - is as yet undetermined.

 

1. Roy Tricker: 'Beachamwell Churches: A Brief Guide' (orig. Norfolk Churches Trust; new edition ed. & produced by Eileen Powell, 2004), p.4.

2. G. Baldwin Brown: 'The Arts in Early England' Vol. 2: 'Anglo-Saxon Architecture' (John Murray, 1925), p.408.

3. Cyril Fox: 'Anglo-Saxon Monumental Sculpture in the Cambridge District' in 'Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society' Vol.23 (1922), p.30.

4. H.M. Taylor & Joan Taylor: 'Anglo-Saxon Architecture' (Cambridge University Press, 1965), Vol.1, p.60.

     

Beachamwell 

(Remains of cross)

 

 

Date of visit: 27/9/18.

Just outside the east wall of St. Mary's churchyard, at TF7510905343, are the badly-eroded remains of a cross that has been moved at least twice in its lifetime. It is shown on an estate map of 17661 as originally standing at TF75200532, 100m to the east, at the edge of the village green in front of the inn. In the mid-19th century it was being used as a mounting block, and was then moved to TF75750592, on heath land about 180m north-east of the Pinetrees crossroads. While in that position it had a large letter 'G' carved on one face of the pedestal, to serve as a boundary stone for the glebe land. Although modern Ordnance Survey maps still show 'Cross (rems of)' at this location, it was moved again in 1981 to its present site. The socket stone is a plain block with a slight trace of chamfering on the top edge, but no stop-angles, 75cm x 73cm, and 31cm high. The stump of the shaft that remains is (unusually) rectangular, and badly eroded on one side. It measures 35cm x 20cm, and 59cm high.

 

1. NRO: MC 2506/1

     

Beachamwell 

(Remains of cross)

 

 

At TF74930463 are the scant remnants of All Saints church, which apart from 'lumps and bumps' in the fields, are all that remain of the deserted or shrunken medieval settlement of 'Wella'. In 1989 the west wall of the church collapsed, and in the rubble was found "a fragment of a late Saxon wheel-headed cross".1 This is one of only four known from Norfolk, but where it is now I don't know. It doesn't seem to be held in the Norfolk Museums Collections.

 

1. Gaimster, Margeson & Hurley: 'Medieval Britain & Ireland in 1989', in 'Medieval Archaeology' (1990) Vol.34, p.202.

     

Binham 

(Remains of cross)

 

 

Date of visit: 3/10/18.

Dimensions: PastScape & Cozens-Hardy

The freestanding cross on the Green here - at TF9837139578 - is called a market cross, as it (or its predecessor) may have been erected by Binham Priory after a market was granted to the village in the early 12th century. Although undoubtedly an open space this wasn't necessarily always a green, as Tom Martin's 'Church Notes' of 1763 say that the cross was then in the middle of the street. Both the pedestal and the headless shaft are of Barnack limestone, set on a 2.75m square plinth of mortared stone blocks, rising in seven steps to a height of 1.8m. The socket stone is 50cm high, with a splayed base and stop-angles, housing an octagonal 15th century shaft broken off at 3.6m. About halfway up there are traces of some kind of ornamental moulding.

     

Binham 

(Remains of cross)

 

 

Date of visit: 3/10/18.

About 200m east of All Saints church at Cockthorpe, the road used to be crossed by a 'driftway' that led from Binham Priory to Stiffkey. On the verge at the northern corner of this former crossways (TF9833642171) is the socket stone of a cross, with the nub of a shaft broken off virtually level with the top of the mortise hole. The lead lining of the hole is still visible, as are the remains of stop-angles at the top corners. The pedestal is 70cm square, with 30cm remaining above ground, and has what looks like a recent vehicle scrape on the eastern face.

     

Bintree 

(Possible cross site)

 

 

On Bryant's 1826 map of Norfolk1, the 1st edition OS 1" map of 1838-40, and on modern maps, the crossing of Yarrow Road and a by-road west of the church is named 'High Cross' (TG00762345.) The crossroads is shown but not named on Faden's map of 1797. On the 1844 tithe award, the same name is applied to field 224, which is in the south-west angle of the crossroads, while in the north-east angle, field 77 is recorded as 'High Cross 6 Acres'.2 The name 'High Cross' seems unlikely to be due to the height of the land, as it slopes upwards very gently along Yarrow Road, but down again before the crossroads is reached. I visited the site in August 2019, but was unable to find any remains among all the undergrowth.

 

Although I regard the next item as 'doubtful', there's a slim possibility that it might have some relevance to High Cross, as it's only about ¾ of a mile away to the north-west.

 

1. Andrew Bryant: 'Map of the County of Norfolk from Actual Survey' (1826); ed. J.C. Barringer, Larks Press, 1998.

2. Nat Arch, Kew: IR 29/23/67

     

Bintree 

(Doubtful remains of cross)

 

 

Date of visit: 1/6/19.

In the NHER entry for Bintree or Bintry Watermill (No.2932), a 1978 report mentions there a "stone block like a cross shaft, but probably only a corner-guard". The mill, now defunct, was powered by the River Wensum, which passes beneath an old bridge just across the narrow lane from the mill house. The block can be found embedded into the verge just where the bridge parapet turns at an angle, at TF9987324231. The visible part is 17cm square and 35cm high, although a bit of scraping with a trowel reveals that it flares out just below ground level to about 22cm square. To me, it seems too small and 'post-like' to be part of a cross shaft - but on the other hand, its small size and location hard against the bridge wall mitigates against it being a 'corner guard'. Anything that hit the block would also hit the bridge. Possibly it's all that remains of a boundary marker or gate-post?

     

Blakeney 

(Documented record of cross)

 

 

"Robert Cressy, (50 and more), of Blakeney alias Sniterley, res. 30 years, was present at the Cross by Le Key in Blakeney, when Bartholomew said that Dns. William Richardson was 'a false hore master preiste'." Thus reads a deposition of November 15th 1518, which is the only record of a cross here.1 It seems likely to have stood somewhere between Blakeney Quay and the Guildhall.

 

1. 'Norwich Consistory Court Depositions, 1499-1512 and 1518-1530', Norfolk Records Society Vol.10 (1938), p.172.

     

Blofield 

(Possible cross site)

 

 

Just east of the village of Blofield, on Sparrow Hill, there used to be a crossroads formed by the meeting of the old Yarmouth Road, High Noon Lane and Hemblington Road (TG34490994.) The A47 dual carriageway now ploughs through this, but the north side of the junction still survives. Cozens-Hardy says the 1st edition OS 1" map shows the site of a cross here, but it does not. It does indeed give the name 'Blofield Cross' for this crossroads, but no 'cross (site of)' or 'cross (rems of'). No map before or since even gives the name, and there is no trace of any physical remains. On Faden's 1797 map there is no north-south road through this spot, but both it and crop marks show that there used to be a medieval road running to it from the north-east. On balance, I'm inclined to agree that this was probably the site of a freestanding cross, but there's no actual evidence for it.

 

Although it may be unconnected, additional weight is given by a 1648 Blofield land conveyance, in which Henry Bennett of Great Yarmouth mortgaged land to Edward Warde of Bixley, including one rood which "lyeth at Jenkyns Crosse".1 Unfortunately I haven't been able to pin down a location, as its position is only defined in the indenture in relation to unnamed fields in the possession of other landowners.

 

1. NRO: MC 224/15, 674X7

     

Bramerton 

(Documented record of cross)
 

According to Blomefield, in 1549 "Nicholas Cooke and three others, were prosecuted for…pulling down Bramerton-cross..."1 Although the exact location is unknown, Cross Lane runs south to north from Rockland St. Mary to Surlingham on the eastern side of Bramerton, and the parish boundaries for all three run along it for part of the way. (See also Rockland St. Mary.)

 

1. Blomefield: Vol.5 (1806), p.472.

     

Bressingham 

(Documented record of cross)
 

From the context given, I think this cross was in the churchyard of St. John the Baptist in this parish: "In 1549, the cross was pulled down, and the materials sold, as was all the church plate, (except enough to make a new cup,) with a vestment, rochet, cross-cloth, and altar-cloth".1

 

1. Blomefield: Vol.1 (1805), p.71.

     

Brettenham 

(Remains of cross - now lost)
 

In his 1888 account of his church, St. John's at Rushford - also once known as Rushworth (TL92348125) - the rector mentions "the fragments of the churchyard cross and of its base (heretofore thriftily utilised in a hollowed and inverted condition, as a font in Robert Buxton's 'restoration' in 1575)…"1 No trace of this remains today.

 

1. Rev. Dr. Edward Bennet: 'The College of S. John the Evangelist of Rushworth', in 'Norfolk Archaeology' Vol.10 (1888), p.307.

     

Bridgham 

(Documented record of cross)
 

Lying about 170m north of High Bridgham Road at TL956862 is a field that was numbered 128 in the tithe award of 1838, and named as 'Guiltcross Close'.1 The Enclosure Award of 1806 names it 'Gilt Cross Close'.2 Cozens-Hardy identified this with a plot of land named in a 14th century deed - now kept at Arundel Castle - as lying "juxta crucem de Brighom super le Crouch furlong." This I translate as "near the cross of Bridgham beyond the Crouch [Cross] furlong." He also thought it might be the same place as a field called 'Krossewong' noted in a 1251 survey in the Register of the bishopric of Ely, of 11 acres and 1 rood in extent.3 (This object is not to be confused with the 'Guiltcross' at Roudham, although the two are less than 1½ miles apart.)

 

The archaeologist Roy Rainbird Clarke apparently searched this field for any remains of Bridgham Cross in 1934, but found nothing. This is hardly surprising, as the deed doesn't suggest the cross to be in that field, merely not far from it. I would be more inclined to consider the grassy triangle at TL95858602, where High Bridgham Road, Back Lane and Timber Hill now meet. This is only 230 m from the edge of that field, and both the tithe and enclosure maps suggest that it was a somewhat more extensive 'green' than it is now.

 

In 1935, the antiquarian rector of Santon, H. Tyrrell-Green, reported that part of a medieval stone cross - which part wasn't specified - had been discovered in the foundations of an old cottage in The Street, in Bridgham village. This spot (TL95908592, where No.44 now stands) is about 350m south-east of Guiltcross Close, so of course the temptation is to think that it might have been a part of that very cross. (And importantly for my own theory, it's only 100m from the 'grassy triangle' that I surmise to have been the actual site.) This fragment was apparently later moved to Hopton-on-Sea.

 

1. NRO: PD 395/13

2. NRO: C/Sca 2/52

3. British Library: Cotton MS Claudius C XI, ff 2-332

     

Brinton 

(Remains of cross)

 

 

Date of visit: 2/8/18.

In the hamlet of Sharrington, in the parish of Brinton, a cross stands on a slightly-raised grassy island at the junction of Bale Road and Lower Hall Lane (TG0313136675), just east of All Saints church. According to a map of 1784, it then bordered the northern edge of the village green. I measured it as 2.92m high to the underside of the capital, but only the pedestal and bottom section of the shaft, and the base of the broken-off head are medieval. The top three sections of the shaft (79cm, 58cm, and 46cm high in ascending order) and the octagonal moulded capital are the result of modern restorations. The whole structure sits on a brick foundation of uncertain age, which is now almost completely hidden below the surface.

 

The socket stone, 83cm square and 41cm high, once had stop-angles, but these have now almost worn away. A lead lining in the socket is still visible. The original section of shaft - 33cm square at the bottom, and 68cm high - was probably once octagonal like the modern replacements, but weathering has rounded it off. It's a pity that the junction between old and new couldn't have been handled more elegantly. Bale Road has been suggested as part of a route for pilgrims heading westward to Binham Priory and Walsingham.

     

Brinton 

(Remains of cross)

 

 

Date of visit: 2/8/18.

In Brinton itself, tucked away behind a bench beneath the village sign, is the very worn stump of a cross shaft (TG0377535719.) It stands 57cm out of the ground, with the bottom 30cm x 32cm where it would have fitted squarely into a socket stone. The rest of the shaft above it measures 28cm x 24cm in section, but it's so badly weathered that it's impossible to tell what shape it once was. It is now apparently back in its original location, having been moved elsewhere in the 19th century, and then seen leaning against a house in about 1910.

     

Brockdish 

(Documented record of cross)
 

According to Blomefield, the old 'Town Book' of Brockdish reveals that, in 1561, Roger Colby was paid for "repairing the crosse in the street".1

 

1. Blomefield: Vol.5 (1806), p.338.

     

Brundall 

(Site of cross)
  Cozens-Hardy had information from Fred Johnson (Archivist of the Norfolk & Norwich Archaeological Society) that Braydeston Cross used to stand at the three-ways just east of St. Michael's church (at TG34030866.) This junction is formed by the meeting of Braydeston Hall Lane and an unnamed east-west road that runs past the church, then peters out into a track. Braydeston is a lost medieval village recorded up to 1428, that existed to the east/north-east of the church. No trace of either village or cross now remains.
     

Burgh & Tuttington 

(Possible cross site)
 

A little east of the village of Burgh-next-Aylsham is a crossways formed by the meeting of north-south and east-west roads (TG22832527). The name 'White Cross' is given to it on modern maps, as well as on the 1821 enclosure map, and the 1st edition OS 1" map. In the 1839 tithe award, fields 11 & 21 are called 'White Cross Close', while field 22 is 'Ten Acres or White Cross'.1 All are on the north (Burgh) side of the east-west road, close to the crossroads. Although the name is indicative, there are no remains of any cross known here. That it might be more than just a named crossroads is suggested by the fact that it's exactly on the Burgh/Brampton parish boundary, and that the road north from it goes to the probable site of a lost chapel of St. Botolph in Tuttington, documented in 1214.

 

1. NRO: DN/TA 223

     

Burnham Overy 

(Remains of cross)
 

Date of visit: 17/7/18.

This village stands in the ancient Hundred of Brothercross, and the object (or its successor) that some believe gave the Hundred its name can be found at Velding's Corner, on a grassy island at the junction of Mill Road and Wells Road (TF8422042871.) Unfortunately it was in a sad state when I visited, as on February 6th 2018, it had been struck by a Range Rover, and was then surrounded by rubble and safety netting (see picture top left.) The medieval or early post-medieval brick base took the brunt of the impact, and luckily the original 14th century limestone pedestal and shaft stub have survived virtually unscathed. By March 2019 the cross had been rebuilt to the same design by the Norfolk firm Medieval Masonry Ltd, and the base newly faced with lime mortar.1

 

Given its state at the time of my visit, I can only quote the dimensions given by Historic England for how it used to look: "This base measures 0.95m in height and c.1m square at the foot, tapering inward slightly in two equal stages. The socket stone which forms the lower part of the cross is 0.35m in height and 0.67m square at the bottom with chamfered stops above. On each face, between the stops, is a small carved shield. The tapering shaft set into it is octagonal in section and broken at a height of 0.6m; the junction between the two is concealed by a modern cement rendering...The overall height of the monument above ground level is now c.1.9m."

 

The picture bottom left shows the cross's condition before the accident, and is reproduced here by kind permission of 'Dragontree', who originally published it on Waymarking.com on September 12th 2012.

 

According to Cozens-Hardy, a drawing that Dawson Turner2 did for his early 19th century edition of Blomefield's 'History' shows that the base once had four distinct stages, rather than the later two-stage tapering.

 

The idea that this object named the Hundred appears to have arisen in the 1700s with Francis Blomefield. He thought that it "seems to take its name from a cross placed at the ford or pass over the river at Burnham; which river, in the Saxon age, might be called the Brother".3 The cross is located about 160m north of a bridge over the River Burn, after which the seven Burnham villages are named, but burn or bourne is simply Old English for 'stream', and there is no evidence for an earlier name.

 

In the Domesday Book, the Hundred is spelt variously as Brodercros, Brodescros, Brodecros - and once, curiously, as Dros cros. A more modern spelling of Brothercros doesn't appear until 1212. Rather than a river, Brodher occurs as a personal name in the DB. Just as 'cross' is derived from the Old Norse kross, Brodher is an Old Norse name, literally meaning 'brother'. Interestingly, the only other Hundred in Norfolk named for a cross, Guiltcross, may also derive from an Old Norse personal name (see Roudham.) Whatever the derivation, and whether or not this is the cross that named the Hundred, the people of the Burnhams certainly call this 'the Brother Cross' nowadays.

 

1. Burnham Overy parish council minutes 15/1/19, & The Burnhams Newsletter March 2019, p.30.

2. British Library: Add Ms 23024-23062

3. Blomefield: Vol.7 (1807), p.2.

     

Burnham Thorpe 

(Site of cross)

  Apart from the name of a wood in nearby Holkham Park, nothing remains of Coldham's Cross, which stood at TF87134011. Bryant's 1826 map and the 1st edition OS 1" map of 1838-40 both show it on the north side of the Burnham to New Holkham road. There aren't many independent sources that mention this cross, but all agree that it was medieval, and that it marked the boundary between lands owned by the Earls of Orford and Leicester. I can only assume that this was a later use for Coldham's Cross, as although there were Earls of Leicester as far back as 1107, there was no Earl of Orford until 1697. Coldham's was the name of one of the medieval manors of Burnham.
   

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