The historic grade I listed Market Cross in Malmesbury has been hit by a recycling lorry and sustained serious damage to one of its pillars.

The impact happened early Tuesday morning, and the pillar, which has a long crack running down it, has been temporarily braced.

Maintained by Malmesbury Town Council, the octagonal structure at the top of the High Street was built in the 15th century, to provide shelter from the rain for poor people on market days.

Town clerk Jeff Penfold said the accident happened before 8.30am.

"First we have to make sure it's stable. Then we can take it from there," he said.

Mr Penfold said the market cross had damaged by traffic before.

"A couple of years ago it was hit by another lorry delivering to premises in the Market Cross. But this time the damage is more severe.

"The Market Cross has been around since long before the combustion engine was invented, and during the past some of the stone has been replaced."

When asked if the cost of repairing such an important structure would be covered by insurance he said:

"One hopes so - our insurance or that of the vehicle."

Wiltshire Council and Hills Municipal Collections issued a joint statement, saying:

“We are aware that a recycling collection vehicle has accidently collided with the Market Cross structure in Malmesbury. A single vehicle was involved in this incident.

“No one was hurt and we are in the process of establishing the circumstances of the accident and the extent of the damage caused.

“In the meantime, the area has been cordoned off.”

According to Historic England, the Market Cross was renovated around 200 years ago by the Earl of Suffolk, and repaired again in 1909-12 and 1949-50. It was listed in 1949.

Made of limestone, the structure has a large lantern above the roof, supported by flying buttresses, with figures of the saints and the crucifixion set in niches.

Poet and antiquarian John Leland, who visited Malmesbury in 1542, wrote that it had been built within living memory and described it as "a right fair and costeley peace of worke."