Ancient Monuments

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Swinstead village cross

A Scheduled Monument in Swinstead, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 52.7904 / 52°47'25"N

Longitude: -0.4915 / 0°29'29"W

OS Eastings: 501819.547208

OS Northings: 322489.581751

OS Grid: TF018224

Mapcode National: GBR FT6.2JR

Mapcode Global: WHGLB.F454

Entry Name: Swinstead village cross

Scheduled Date: 23 May 1957

Last Amended: 23 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009203

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22647

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Swinstead

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Swinstead St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes Swinstead village cross, a standing stone cross located
at the road junction at the centre of the village north west of the parish
church. The cross is of stepped form and is principally medieval in date. The
monument includes the base, comprising two steps and a socket-stone, and the

The base includes two steps, both octagonal in plan and constructed of worn
slabs of limestone resting on coursed limestone which has been joined by
mortar in modern times. The lower step is about 2.5m wide and stands to a
height of nearly 0.6m. The upper step is about 1.8m wide and 0.27m high. On
the upper step rests the socket-stone, which is composed of two courses. The
lower is formed by a limestone plinth approximately 1.2m square in section and
0.23m high, chamfered along the upper edge and at the corners; the north,
south and west sides are also moulded. The upper course is composed of a plain
slab approximately 0.9m square in section and 0.58m high with slightly
chamfered upper corners. Set into the socket-stone with lead is the shaft,
which is rectangular in section at the base rising over 1m through chamfered
corners in slightly tapering octagonal section. The shaft terminates in a
flat-topped cone, also of octagonal section. The full height of the cross is
nearly 3m.

The monument includes a 1m margin around the cross which is essential for the
monument's support and preservation. The modern paving immediately surrounding
the cross and the adjacent road-signs are excluded from the scheduling
although the ground beneath these features is included.

The cross is listed Grade II.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone,
mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD).
Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as
stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm
Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for
preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of
sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between
parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate
battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and
protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market
places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some
crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for
example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the
scenes of games or recreational activity.
Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have
numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation
has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and
religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by
iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval
standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The
oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft
often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the
stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a
flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th
centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may
take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more
elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped
crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding
stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the
most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the
stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also
uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the
13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and
cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base,
buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and
head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our
understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our
knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which
survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their
original location, are considered worthy of protection.

Swinstead village cross is a good example of the stepped base of a medieval
standing cross. Situated at a road junction in the village centre it is
believed to stand in or near its original position. Limited development of the
area immediately surrounding the cross indicates that archaeological deposits
relating to the monument's construction and use in this location are likely to
survive intact. The cross survives in good condition, having continued in use
as a public monument and amenity from medieval times to the present day.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Davies, D S, 'Lincolnshire Notes and Queries' in Ancient Stone Crosses in Kesteven, , Vol. XII no.5, (1913), 148

Source: Historic England

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