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Harlaxton village cross

A Scheduled Monument in Harlaxton, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 52.8842 / 52°53'2"N

Longitude: -0.687 / 0°41'13"W

OS Eastings: 488446.195874

OS Northings: 332661.831568

OS Grid: SK884326

Mapcode National: GBR DQG.149

Mapcode Global: WHGKN.FR2T

Entry Name: Harlaxton village cross

Scheduled Date: 5 October 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009208

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22652

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Harlaxton

Built-Up Area: Harlaxton

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Harlaxton St Mary and St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes Harlaxton village cross, a standing stone cross located
on a small green at a road junction in the village centre. The cross is of
stepped form and is medieval and later in date. The monument includes the
base, comprising two steps, a plinth and a socket-stone, and the shaft. The
cross is Listed Grade II.

The base includes two steps, both octagonal in plan. The lower step is
principally constructed of worn limestone slabs and measures about 2.7m in
width and is 0.21m high and 0.43m deep; it is surrounded by a small modern
concrete plinth. The upper step is constructed of a green sandstone and is
about 0.14m high and 0.36m deep. The lower step is medieval in date while the
upper represents a late 19th-/early 20th-century restoration. Also dating
to the restoration is the moulded plinth which rests on the upper step; it is
octagonal in section and tapers upwards to a height of about 0.33m. Resting on
the plinth is the medieval socket-stone, of white limestone, also octagonal in
section. The sides of the socket-stone are carved with alternating shields
and quatrefoils. Set into the socket-stone is the shaft, which is composed of
two stones of tapering octagonal section: the lower is broad, measuring 1.7m
in circumference at the base, and stands 0.55m high; onto it fits the upper,
of white limestone, which tapers to a cone-shaped point. The upper stone is
medieval, while the lower was added during the restoration. The full height
of the cross is nearly 3m.

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.

Harlaxton village cross is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a
stepped base and carved socket-stone surviving in good condition. 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. While
parts of the cross have survived since medieval times, subsequent restoration
has resulted in its continued use as a public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Davies, D S, 'Lincolnshire Notes and Queries' in Ancient Stone Crosses in Kesteven, , Vol. XII no.5, (1913), 141-142

Source: Historic England

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