Ancient Monuments

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Silk Willoughby village cross

A Scheduled Monument in Silk Willoughby, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 52.9737 / 52°58'25"N

Longitude: -0.4282 / 0°25'41"W

OS Eastings: 505646.7215

OS Northings: 342966.2345

OS Grid: TF056429

Mapcode National: GBR FQZ.DLK

Mapcode Global: WHGKD.DJB5

Entry Name: Silk Willoughby village cross

Scheduled Date: 7 October 1937

Last Amended: 23 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009234

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22642

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Silk Willoughby

Built-Up Area: Silk Willoughby

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Silk Willoughby St Denys

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes Silk Willoughby village cross, a Grade II* Listed
standing stone cross of medieval and later date. The cross stands in a paved
area on the south west side of a road junction to the south west of the parish
church. The monument includes a base consisting of two modern steps, now
buried, and a medieval socket-stone, with a medieval shaft. Both the socket-
stone and shaft are of limestone.
The socket-stone is approximately 0.93m square in section at ground level and
stands to a height of about 0.58m. The corners are chamfered above and below
so that the top of the stone is roughly octagonal in section. The four
principal sides are carved with the symbols of the four evangelists in deep
relief: on the south east face, a man (St Matthew); on the north east, a
winged lion (St Mark); on the south west, a winged calf (St Luke); and on
the north west, an eagle (St John). The corners are carved with further animal
figures. Surrounding the socket-stone and lying flush with the pavement are a
series of rectangular flagstones which describe an area approximately 1.55m
square. These stones represent the upper of two modern steps added to the
monument in the late 19th/early 20th century and subsequently buried by
later paving. Set into the centre of the socket-stone is the shaft, of
rectangular section at the base rising through chamfered corners in tapering
octagonal section. The top of the stone is mainly flat and represents the
original upper surface of the lower stone, onto which an upper stone would
have been fixed. The full height of the shaft is approximately 1.37m.
The monument includes a 1m margin around the cross which is essential for the
monument's support and preservation. The paving immediately surrounding the
cross is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath it is

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.

Silk Willoughby village cross is a good example of the remains of a medieval
standing cross with an unusual carved base. Situated at a road junction in the
village centre, it is believed to stand 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 been little altered
in modern times and has continued in use as a public monument and amenity from
medieval times to the present day.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Trollope, E, Sleaford, and the Wapentakes of Flaxwell and Arwardhun, (1872), 463
photos on file AA 30924/1, The Market Cross at Silk Willoughby on A15, 2 miles SSW of Sleaf,
Simmons, B B, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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