Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross, St Oswald's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Asgarby and Howell, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.0015 / 53°0'5"N

Longitude: -0.31 / 0°18'36"W

OS Eastings: 513507.279513

OS Northings: 346242.47591

OS Grid: TF135462

Mapcode National: GBR GS2.SK1

Mapcode Global: WHHLD.6TMC

Entry Name: Churchyard cross, St Oswald's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 28 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009228

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22635

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Asgarby and Howell

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Heckington St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes a standing stone cross located in the churchyard of St
Oswald's Church, Howell, approximately 4m south east of the south porch. The
cross is of stepped form and is medieval in date. The monument includes the
foundation, steps, socket-stone and shaft.

The foundation and core of the cross is constructed of loose limestone rubble
around which the steps, of limestone blocks, are built. There are three steps
of square plan, the lowest buried beneath the turf, the second at ground
level, and fragments of the third surviving above. The socket-stone rests
directly on the rubble core and is roughly square in section; the upper parts
of the corners are moulded and chamfered forming a top of irregular octagonal
section. The shaft is set in the centre of the socket-stone and is square in
section at the base, rising through chamfered corners in a tapering octagonal
section. There is a 15th-century inscription running in a band around the
shaft which commemorates John Spenser, rector from 1428 to 1448. The shaft is
now approximately 1.5m high and represents the entire lower stone of the
15th-century cross-shaft. The full height of the cross is approximately 2m.
This cross is listed Grade II*.
The grave on the north side of the cross is excluded from the scheduling.

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 churchyard cross at Howell is a good example of the remains of a medieval
standing cross with a quadrangular base and unusual carved shaft. Situated
near the south porch, 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 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


Books and journals
'Kelly's Directory' in Kelly's Directory, (1909), 321
Davies, D S, 'Lincolnshire Notes and Queries' in Ancient Stone Crosses in Kesteven, , Vol. XII no.5, (1913), 142

Source: Historic England

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