Ancient Monuments

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Butter cross, Swineshead

A Scheduled Monument in Swineshead, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 52.9454 / 52°56'43"N

Longitude: -0.1592 / 0°9'33"W

OS Eastings: 523788.12

OS Northings: 340250.202

OS Grid: TF237402

Mapcode National: GBR HVC.8LC

Mapcode Global: WHHLV.J7FB

Entry Name: Butter cross, Swineshead

Scheduled Date: 13 October 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009218

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22666

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Swineshead

Built-Up Area: Swineshead

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Swineshead St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the Butter cross, the remains of a market cross, which
stands on the north side of a modern war memorial in the former market place.
The cross is of stepped form, is medieval in date with later alterations and
is Listed Grade II. The monument includes the base, of three steps.

The steps are all roughly square in plan and constructed of limestone blocks
with slightly chamfered upper corners. The lowest step is about 2.45m square,
the second 1.9m square, and the third 1.15m square. All three steps are
medieval in date with modern repair, including vertical holes of square
section indicating where the steps were formerly held together by iron clamps.

The upper surface of the third step is moulded to octagonal section and then
levelled off; at the centre is a socket of rectangular section into which the
shaft formerly fitted, now occupied by a plain flat slab. The full height of
the base is about 0.7m.

The modern stocks, kerb and paving slabs which surround the cross are excluded
from the scheduling although the ground beneath these features is included.

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.

The Butter cross at Swineshead is a good example of the stepped base of a
medieval standing cross. Situated in the former market place, 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 remains of the cross have been little altered in modern
times, having continued in use as a public monument and amenity from medieval
times to the present day.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Kelly's Directory' in Kelly's Directory, (1909), 575
shopkeeper, Luesby, Colin, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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