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Standing cross at the junction of Holywell Lane with High Street, Maltby Lane and Ashton Lane

A Scheduled Monument in Braithwell, Doncaster

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Latitude: 53.444 / 53°26'38"N

Longitude: -1.2022 / 1°12'7"W

OS Eastings: 453088.015

OS Northings: 394434.481

OS Grid: SK530944

Mapcode National: GBR NX1M.J4

Mapcode Global: WHDDF.HPRM

Entry Name: Standing cross at the junction of Holywell Lane with High Street, Maltby Lane and Ashton Lane

Scheduled Date: 24 May 1951

Last Amended: 13 April 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011852

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23398

County: Doncaster

Civil Parish: Braithwell

Built-Up Area: Braithwell

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): South Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Braithwel St James

Church of England Diocese: Sheffield


The monument is a restored medieval standing cross located at an ancient
crossroads in the centre of Braithwell. It comprises the calvary, socle and
part of the shaft of the medieval cross together with a number of later

The calvary or stepped base of the cross appears originally to have consisted
of three magnesian limestone steps rising to a height of c.70cm. Although the
core and foundations of the original bottom step will survive, the treads were
replaced in Roche Abbey stone in the late 19th century. The later step, which
is believed to conform closely in size to the original, is c.2m square and has
a chamfered top edge inscribed `Erected about 1191. Restored 1887, the jubilee
year of Queen Victoria'.

The socle or socket stone of the cross is also of magnesian limestone and
measures c.90cm square by 60cm high. It is octagonal with pyramid stops on
alternate faces and bears a Norman French inscription round the top edge which
reads `jesy lefiz:MAIREPANSETOOLIERI:MORROI:QEVVS:PRIE'. This has been
translated as `Jesus, the son of Mary, remember our king and deliver him I
pray'. Also inscribed in the socle, on its north face, is the date MCXCI. This
latter inscription is not thought to be original but it is not clear when it
was added. Set into the socle is the bottom part of a cross shaft comprising a
30cm high square sectioned magnesian limestone column with a pedestal and
fluted capital. This would originally have supported a further shaft and cross
head which is now missing. The scale of the surviving section suggests that
the missing cross shaft was quite slender and may, therefore, have been made
of wood though this is entirely conjectural.

Originally the socle would have been mounted directly on top of the calvary.
However, currently between the two are two blocks of Roche Abbey stone, one of
which carries a plaque inscribed `This cross was erected to commemorate the
freeing from bondage of KING RICHARD I circa 1191. Restored in the Coronation
year of Her Majesty QUEEN ELIZABETH II 1953'. The suggestion that the medieval
cross was dedicated to Richard I appears to have originated in the 19th
century when the Norman inscription was attributed to a friend or retainer of
Haneline, Earl Warenne, who was Henry II's half brother and, therefore,
Richard's uncle. However, this may not be true as some authorities have dated
the style of lettering to the late 13th century, a century after Richard's

Excluded from the scheduling are the railings enclosing the cross and the
flagpole and modern paved surface inside the railings although the ground
beneath these features is included. The cross is Listed Grade II.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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.

Although restored and missing some of its original components, the Braithwell
Cross is a good example of an inscribed medieval standing cross which, being
in its original location, also preserves the medieval land surface on which it
was set up. Though suffering from the effects of weathering, its inscription
is still reasonably well preserved and is a rare and interesting example of a
medieval public dedication.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Armitage, E S, Key to English Antiquities, (1905), 201
Hunter, J, South Yorkshire, (1828), 135
Miller, E , The History and Antiquities of Doncaster, (1804), 247
Morris, J E, West Riding of Yorkshire, (1932), 134
'Journal of the British Antiquarian Association' in Journal of the British Antiquarian Association, , Vol. 44, (1888), 107
Shackleton Hill, Angela, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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