There were a number of large stone Crosses in Gorleston. Two seem confirmed by recent maps showing the historic sites of St Bennett’s Cross and also the Stone Cross roundabout (old White Horse roundabout).
Gorleston-On-Sea’s appropriate mythology includes a St Clement’s Cross (the Saint of the Mariner’s Cross), which is supposedly mentioned in Cheever’s 1597 accounts.
Slightly differing local folklore surrounding Clement’s Cross was recorded in books published by historians Reverend Alfred Inigo Suckling in 1846 and Charles John Palmer in 1875. Unfortunately this Medieval stone monument never made it onto any map but I may have rediscovered its location, signalling to weary travellers they had arrived at a fishing village on the North Sea and on the mouth of the River Yare.
The presence of other stone crosses or boundary standing stones, perhaps 2 or 3 more, may also have existed. Or might just be folk getting myths and chronology a bit mixed up. Which can sometimes create that strange phenomena of doubling up events or doppelgänger tales we puzzlingly find so often in ancient accounts of historical episodes. Yet Gorleston’s repeated myths were only a few decades or centuries old and the village was not very big even after the Second World War.
The old High Crosses of Gorleston-On-Sea
Gorleston’s old White Horse Pub roundabout is officially called the Stone Cross Roundabout. The most likely reason for it and the builders were perhaps the Austin Friars Priory that was located there.
The location or at least the remains of the site of St Bennett’s Cross, also called St Bennet’s Cross, is next to St Andrew’s Church. This monument was marked on Ordnance Survey Maps until after World War 2 but is no longer noted on OS maps. Was it related to East Anglia’s Order of Saint Benedict and St Benets Abey on the tidal River Bure, which flowed and still flows into the mouth of the River Yare and past Gorleston’s Riverside Road, Darby’s Hard and out into the North Sea.
Documented in 1597 the other Christian symbol was appropriately for Gorleston-On-Sea, especially back in history when it was a very busy fishing port, was the seafarers St Clement’s Cross.
The site of this centuries old Anchor Cross seems lost in the depths of Davey Jones’ locker, joining the brave souls of Gorleston Lifeboat men. You might be able to figure out Clement’s Cross location by combining old maps and the detailed accounts of historians journeys across the River Yare, when that was into or out of the old borders of Norfolk and Suffolk and you had to travel through the South Town.
They and would have known the route, how far you had to go, what town you were travelling towards by the milestones along the market roads, parish border stones and especially the stone Crosses through old Gorleston and that Southtown, that Little Yarmouth, across from Great Yarmouth.
England’s High Crosses
A high cross or standing cross is a free-standing Christian cross made of stone and often richly decorated. There was a unique Early Medieval tradition in Ireland and Britain of raising large sculpted stone crosses, usually outdoors.
Some crosses were erected just outside churches and monasteries; others at sites that may have marked boundaries or crossroads, or preceded churches. Whether they were used as preaching crosses at early dates is unclear, and many crosses have been moved to their present locations. The high crosses were status symbols, either for a monastery or for a sponsor or patron, and possibly preaching crosses, and may have had other functions.
The earlier crosses were typically up to about two metres or eight feet high, but in Ireland examples up to three times higher appear later, retaining thick massive proportions, giving large surface areas for carving.
… most recorded crosses in Britain were destroyed or damaged by iconoclasm after the Reformation, and typically only sections of the shaft remain. The ring initially served to strengthen the head and the arms of the high cross, but it soon became a decorative feature as well.
High cross | Wikipedia
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