This is a subject I've studied here in Somerset for quite a few years,
having carried out an exhaustive photographic record of all the crosses I
could find in the historic county in the 1970s and then again in the 1990s.
I was inspired to do this by 'The Old Stone Crosses of Somerset' (1877) by
Charles Pooley, who also wrote 'The Old stone crosses of Gloucestershire'.
One A Pope wrote a volume on the Old Stone Crosses of Dorset in c1909, our
old friend Alfred Watkins (yes, *that* Alfred Watkins) wrote on the
Standing Crosses of Herefordshire in c1930, and in 1973, Professor B J
Marples wrote a volume about the crosses of Oxfordshire.
There were such things as wayside crosses, but in truth, they seem to have
been vastly outnumbered by those which stand in churchyards or at market
place / village centres, or on parish boundaries. In historic Somerset, for
example, I have records of about 400 crosses that are known to have
existed, and from the patchiness of the documentary evidence that supports
this total, I suspect there were more likely to have been several thousand
in the high medieval period. The wayside crosses seem mainly to have marked
either 'pilgrimage' routes (such as those at Old Cleeve in West Somerset),
or routes across high, unenclosed land (such as Mendip). In Somerset, at
least, very few 'cross' place names indicate former crosses (with the
exception of White and Stump cross names). Most mean 'crossroads' or 'place
where you turn off to go to x' where the place name 'x cross' is used at a
I have written 99% of a book about the crosses of Somerset, which I promise
I will get out into the world very soon, but in the meantime, if anyone
would like a copy of the introduction, where I discuss some of these very
points, e-mail me off-list. Even better, if you would like to buy the
CDROM when it comes out, mail me now...I'll send details of contents, cost
Sorry about the commercial :-) and the fact that this reply took so long,
but I haven't read my mail for a couple of days.