Such crosses were very common in Norfolk. They may still be
seen standing usually at cross roads but quite often simply by the
side of roads. I know of no order of henry VIII to make them illegal,
as one correspondant suggested, but in 1643 Parliament did pass
an act that all such crosses must be destroyed - which was often
complied with by lopping off the head of the cross, leaving the
shaft; and some escaped altogether.
I undertook some research into this subject some years ago. There
were local historians who had suggested that the Norfolk crosses
marked a "Walsingham Way" from Palmers Green near London to
Little Walsingham. In fact, if one plots them, this is impossible;
and it appears that each Norfolk town had its "Walsingham Way"
as today they have their "Norwich Road". The most immediate
reason for such crosses seems to be a fulfilment of a vow, like the
Calvaries one still finds in Roman Catholic country lanes. However I
believe this is a Christianisation of the basic human urge to stand
stones on end - and whether they were crosses, fertility symbols or
Bronze Age calenders seems to be secondary. Remember
Absalom and his stone in the Kings Valley "because I have no son
to carry on my name"?
(I have also been told that market crosses arose when Edward I
banned the holding of fairs in churchyards, to remind people that
the market place was still under the control of the clergy - but I
cannot guarantee that one is true)
Oh yes, and crosses were set up on battlefields to remind people
to pray for the souls of those buried there, as with the crosses on
North walsham battlefield.