Great to see March’s ancient Stone Cross has been re-pointed as precious few exist

IT is gratifying that March’s ancient Stone Cross has been re-pointed.

Precious few of these wayside crosses exist. In medieval times there were at least 10,000 in the country, but during the Reformation which heralded the destruction of so many beautiful things, many calvary and market crosses were either destroyed or mutilated and left to fall in decay.

March Stone Cross dates from between 1480 and 1500 and it is thought to occupy the site of the township’s medieval market, halfway between Merche and Mercheford. The Cross stands on higher ground halfway between these places. Long ago March residents bequeathed town surveyors money in their wills to repair the Causeway.

It is highly probable that it was erected by an Order of Friars on the old market site where they could hot-fire the gospels to a ready-made assembly of traders and buyers. Friars were known to use a market cross as a stepped pulpit.

The Preaching Cross at March was adorned by a religious figure, hence the reason it was considered offensive and the shaft, like so many others, taken down. Priests and curates would not allow a preaching cross to be erected anywhere near their churches.

The unique medieval calvary cross at Doddington situated near St Mary’s church was taken down in the 16th century and buried along Benwick Road. Before the Second World War, the Rev Richard Ridge, a renowned antiquarian, discovered clues as to its whereabouts and had it re-erected on its present site.

Unlike the continental practice, no other calvary cross exists in Britain.

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