Market cross

The elaborate Malmesbury market cross
French market with cross, c. 1400

A market cross, or in Scots, a mercat cross, is a structure used to mark a market square in market towns, where historically the right to hold a regular market or fair was granted by the monarch, a bishop or a baron.

History

Market crosses were originally from the distinctive tradition in Early Medieval Insular art of free-standing stone standing or high crosses, often elaborately carved, which goes back to the 7th century. Market crosses can be found in many market towns in Britain.[1] British emigrants often installed such crosses in their new cities, and several can be found in Canada and Australia.[2]

The market cross could be representing the official site for a medieval town or village market, granted by a charter, or it could have once represented a traditional religious marking at a crossroads.[2]

Design

These structures range from carved stone spires, obelisks or crosses, common to small market towns such as that in Stalbridge, Dorset,[3] to large, ornate covered structures, such as the Chichester Cross,[4] or Malmesbury Market Cross.[5] They can also be constructed from wood; an example is at Wymondham, Norfolk.[6]

Towns and villages in Great Britain with a market cross

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B

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E

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I

K

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M

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O

P

Q

R

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T

U

W

See also

Copyright