A Wayside Cross is any cross that has been erected by the side of a road or path and they are found all over the world, particularly in Europe.
There have been various reasons for erecting these: For example as markers placed along routes used by Christian pilgrims, or as a shrine in reverence, perhaps to a saint who has some connection to the locality. Others mark burial sites, a disaster, a miracle, or some other event that should be remembered. In some cases they were erected to mark meeting places for Christian worship and later churches were built adjacent to the cross, resulting in the cross being within the church's walls. (See Churchyard Cross and High Cross.)
Wayside Crosses are typically made of stone, iron or wood, of modest size and appearance, and often neglected, especially if sited in the countryside. For protection from the elements, some are enclosed or semi-enclosed. (See also Enshrined Cross)
The more famous crosses include those in Spain on the Pilgrim's Way to Santiago de Compostela and in England, the Eleanor Crosses dating from the late 13th century. A similar custom honoured St. Louis of France.
Prior to those two, when English St. Aldhelm died in 709, his body was carried from Doulting to Malmesbury. Later, his friend, Egwin, Bishop of Worcester, erected crosses in Aldelm's memory at the various places where the funeral procession had stopped overnight.
The practice of building wayside shrines is followed by all major religions (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc) and especially ancient religions, where superstition has for long been closely intertwined with spirituality. Pagan shrines were believed to offer protection to travellers from bandits and evil spirits.
There are an unknown number of Wayside Crosses, many of which are featured in local history books and tourist guides. Many more have quite probably fallen into ditches and become covered with debris, just waiting to be discovered one day.