Cross-Roads, Burial At
CROSS-ROADS, BURIAL AT, in former times the method of disposing of executed criminals and suicides. At the cross-roads a rude cross usually stood, and this gave rise to the belief that these spots were selected as the next best burying-places to consecrated ground. The real explanation is that the ancient Teutonic peoples often built their altars at the cross-roads, and as human sacrifices, especially of criminals, formed part of the ritual, these spots came to be regarded as execution grounds. Hence after the introduction of Christianity, criminals and suicides were buried at the cross-roads during the night, in order to assimilate as far as possible their funeral to that of the pagans. An example of a cross-road execution-ground was the famous Tyburn in London, which stood on the spot where the Oxford, Edgware and London roads met.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)