Ancient Monuments

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Boundary cross, Old Fen Dike

A Scheduled Monument in Sutton St James, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 52.7356 / 52°44'8"N

Longitude: 0.044 / 0°2'38"E

OS Eastings: 538103.153127

OS Northings: 317293.074455

OS Grid: TF381172

Mapcode National: GBR L0S.KY1

Mapcode Global: WHHMX.NH5N

Entry Name: Boundary cross, Old Fen Dike

Scheduled Date: 6 January 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010672

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22685

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Sutton St James

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Sutton St James

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes a standing stone cross located on the eastern edge of
the Old Fen Dike to the south west of the village of Sutton St James. The
cross stands on a grass verge on the north west side of a crossroads. The
cross is medieval in date and is constructed of limestone. The monument
includes the base, comprising a socket stone, and part of the shaft.

The socket stone is constructed from a single limestone slab of square
section. On the west side, where the ground slopes steeply towards the Old
Fen Dike, it stands to a height of 0.35m above the ground surface, and is
supported on a bed of modern concrete; on the south east side it is partially
buried, the top of the stone lying approximately level with the ground surface
of the roadside verge. The upper edge of the stone is chamfered. Set into the
socket stone with lead is a shaft fragment, rectangular in section with
crocketed angles and standing to a height of 0.9m. The cross is Listed Grade

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 remains of the medieval boundary cross at Old Fen Dike represent a good
example of a standing cross with a quadrangular base. It stands near its
original position on a former boundary of the parish of Sutton St James, being
one of a rare group of medieval boundary markers in which only two other
crosses survive. The cross has been little altered in modern times and has
continued in use as a landmark from medieval times to the present day.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pevsner, N, John, H, The Buildings of England: Lincolnshire, (1964), 687
Davies, D S, 'Lincolnshire Notes & Queries' in Ancient Stone Crosses in Lindsey and Holland Divisions of Lincs, , Vol. XIII no7, (1915), 218
Stukeley, W, 'Itinerarium Curiosum' in Ivy Cross by Romans bank in Sutton St James Parish Holland Lincs, ()
account of maps seen, 16th c + later, Losco-Bradley, P.M., FMW Report, (1988)
Jarvisgate, Sutton St James, Merrison, Ann, Green Gables, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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