Ancient Monuments

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Digby village cross

A Scheduled Monument in Digby, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.0793 / 53°4'45"N

Longitude: -0.387 / 0°23'13"W

OS Eastings: 508142.934

OS Northings: 354777.5925

OS Grid: TF081547

Mapcode National: GBR GQZ.YS6

Mapcode Global: WHGJV.0VZQ

Entry Name: Digby village cross

Scheduled Date: 29 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009229

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22637

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Digby

Built-Up Area: Digby

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Digby St Thomas of Canterbury

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes Digby village cross, a Grade II Listed standing stone
cross, located at a road junction at the centre of the village. The cross is
of stepped form and is medieval and later in date. The monument includes the
base, comprised of five steps and a socket-stone, parts of which are medieval;
a medieval shaft; and a modern head.

The base includes five steps, all quadrangular in plan and constructed of
ashlar slabs on coursed brick. The lowest step stands to a height of nearly
0.6m and is topped with worn slabs of limestone; filled slots indicate the
former position of iron clamps. Similar limestone slabs form the southern
side of the second step. The remainder of the second step, and all the upper
steps, are topped with modern slabs. The base of the cross occupies an area
approximately 3.2m square. On the uppermost step rests the socket-stone, which
is composed of two courses: the lower, a large limestone block with a base of
square section with moulded and chamfered corners, and the upper a pair of
narrower slabs clamped together to form a piece of octagonal section with
chamfered edges. Set into the socket-stone is the shaft, which is square in
section at the base and has chamfered corners tapering upwards in octagonal
section. The shaft survives to its original height and is topped by a later
knop, which is also octagonal in section. The head is late 20th-century in
date and takes the form of a simple crucifix within a circle. The full height
of the cross is approximately 5m.

The modern paving immediately surrounding the cross and the road-signs
adjacent to it 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.

Digby village cross is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a
stepped base. 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 construction and use of the cross in this location are likely
to survive intact. While parts of the cross have survived from medieval
times, subsequent restoration has resulted in its continued function 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), 139

Source: Historic England

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