This the first round market house I’ve found with a second storey, which makes it rather special. It has been used as a prison, court house and of course for markets. It is at a busy intersection so you risk limb though probably not life in visiting it. I am told it sometimes causes accidents by its very presence. It is in fine shape and I am told there are two holes in the weather vane caused by a couple of locals challenging each other’s shooting prowess. As my followers will already know, such structures originated as makers for markets, established by the Normans 7 miles apart to provide fresh local food. The original crosses had statues of saint for protection, then of monarchs who granted market licences, thus encouraging commerce. when the population expanded the cross with steps to display goods became inadequate either spreading into nearby streets, or, as here, providing shelter for goods and sellers. This is Northumbria, where rain is common enough to justify this building.
Most market crosses have been destroyed or moved to aid the flow of traffic, but it may be that here its role as a traffic calmer is of value to locals. By preventing large lorries passing, it makes the establishment of big chain stores difficult or impossible, so helps support local businesses, which helps preserve the character of this lovely local town.