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Rippingale's Mediaeval Market - The Butter Cross

Rippingale's Butter Cross

In the 12th or 13th Century, Rippingale was granted a licence for a "Butter Market," - a place where local housewives could sell butter and other food products - eggs, spare vegetables, fruit and other left-overs.

The place would be marked by a "Butter Cross" - a stone column on a raised stone pedestal, where women could sit with baskets of their products at their feet - sit and talk.

Like many others, it was probably more than just a column and pedestal but actually had a roof raised above it, for shelter in poor weather.

Rippingale's is now just a stump of stone four feet high - or is it?

If you look carefully, you can see the top surface of a pedestal just below ground level and it's almost certain that a full three, or four step pedestal lies just beneath the surface of the village green. It's quite likely that the whole butter cross has sunk beneath modern ground level - after all it is a thousand years old.

And it's worth saying at this stage that it's an official English Heritage National Monument - Number 1009200 - and that there are laws about interfering with it or its surroundings which perhaps raise question marks about how close to it the new postbox was built.

So what would our Butter Cross have looked like? These photos give some idea of what Rippingale's Mediaeval Market might have looked like through the ages and as time, weather and neglect took their toll:

Butter Cross at Dunster

Butter Cross at Digby

Above is stump much like ours, at Dunster in Somerset. To the right is a full column still standing at Digby in Lincolnshire. Is it just coincidence that our War Memorial looks very similar?

Butter Cross at Castle Combe, Wiltshire

And finally is the real thing - 14th Century and still standing at Castle Combe in Wiltshire.

© Jim Latham, February 2012