Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross, Old Church

A Scheduled Monument in Great Steeping, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.1531 / 53°9'11"N

Longitude: 0.1442 / 0°8'39"E

OS Eastings: 543477.484532

OS Northings: 363921.432302

OS Grid: TF434639

Mapcode National: GBR KVX.79J

Mapcode Global: WHJM5.50XL

Entry Name: Churchyard cross, Old Church

Scheduled Date: 6 November 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013532

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22694

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Great Steeping

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Great Steeping All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross located in the
churchyard of the Old Church at Great Steeping, formerly the Church of All
Saints. The cross is medieval in date and is constructed of limestone. The
monument includes the base of the cross and a fragment of the shaft.

The base takes the form of a socket stone, approximately 0.8m square in
section, now partially buried and standing to a height of about 0.3m above the
present ground surface. At each corner of the socket stone is a complete
winged figure carved in deep relief symbolising one of the Four Evangelists:
on the north east corner a man (St Matthew), on the south east an ox (St
Luke), on the south west a lion (St Mark) and on the north west an eagle (St
John). Carved on the middle of each side, between the figures, is a plain
shield. The socket stone is broken into two pieces, slightly parted, and in
the top is a rectangular socket filled with two small fragments of limestone
which represent the base of the shaft.

Lying on the ground surface adjacent to the east side of the cross is a loose
fragment of a cross-shaft, 0.66m long, made of sandstone; this piece is not
considered to have been an original part of the cross and is therefore
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 remains of the churchyard cross at the Old Church, Great Steeping, include
a medieval carved base surviving in unusually good condition. It is
particularly rare in that the carved figures are complete, having escaped
mutilation by post-medieval iconoclasts, and due to a long period of partial
burial are little weathered. Situated to the south of the nave, the cross is
believed to stand in its original position, and archaeological deposits
relating to its construction and use will thus survive intact.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Davies, D S, 'Lincolnshire Notes & Queries' in Ancient Stone Crosses in Lindsey and Holland Divisions of Lincs, , Vol. XIII no5, (1915), 148

Source: Historic England

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