Ancient Monuments

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Gelston village cross

A Scheduled Monument in Hough-on-the-Hill, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 52.9975 / 52°59'50"N

Longitude: -0.6411 / 0°38'27"W

OS Eastings: 491301.435246

OS Northings: 345323.653746

OS Grid: SK913453

Mapcode National: GBR DP5.0RG

Mapcode Global: WHGK3.4X0G

Entry Name: Gelston village cross

Scheduled Date: 16 December 1975

Last Amended: 22 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009217

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22665

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Hough-on-the-Hill

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Hough-on-the-Hill All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes Gelston village cross, a Grade II Listed standing stone
cross, located on the village green. The cross is of stepped form, constructed
of limestone and is medieval in date. The monument includes the base,
comprising three steps, a plinth and a socket-stone, and a fragment of the

The base includes three steps of square plan covering an area about 1.9m
square. The lowest step is partially buried on the north and west, and the
upper corners of the second step are chamfered. The plinth is 0.87m square at
the base and chamfered above to a height of 0.2m. On the plinth rests the
socket-stone, a single limestone block measuring 0.7m square in section with
corners chamfered above and below, reaching about 0.51m in height. There is a
circular hole in each side for the fixing of iron railings or other fittings;
these are now plugged with mortar. In the top of the stone is the socket,
0.32m square in section, into which the shaft is set with lead and cement.
The shaft is of rounded rectangular section at the base, 0.3m x 0.27m, and
tapers to a height of 0.64m. There is a small hole in the middle of the
western face. The full height of the cross is about 1.74m.

The monument includes a 1m margin around the cross which is considered
essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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.

Gelston village cross is a good example of the stepped base of a medieval
standing cross. Situated on the village green, it is believed to stand in or
near its original position. Limited disturbance 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 has not been restored, and has continued in use as a public
monument and amenity from medieval times to the present day.

Source: Historic England

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