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Spilsby market cross

A Scheduled Monument in Spilsby, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.1737 / 53°10'25"N

Longitude: 0.0976 / 0°5'51"E

OS Eastings: 540298.7865

OS Northings: 366118.317

OS Grid: TF402661

Mapcode National: GBR KVN.1HK

Mapcode Global: WHJLY.GHQB

Entry Name: Spilsby market cross

Scheduled Date: 11 November 1969

Last Amended: 10 October 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013534

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22697

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Spilsby

Built-Up Area: Spilsby

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Spilsby St James

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes Spilsby market cross, a Grade II Listed standing stone
cross located on the eastern side of the marketplace. The cross is of stepped
form and is medieval in origin with later additions. The monument includes
the base, composed of five steps, a plinth and a socket stone, and the shaft,
knop and head.

The base includes five steps of limestone blocks, medieval in origin, which
were later rebuilt with the inclusion of sandstone flags. Further additions
were made in the present century when the lowest step was raised and the top
of the uppermost step chamfered with a layer of concrete. All the steps are
square in plan, covering an area approximately 3.9m square, and are joined
with mortar and the remains of iron clamps. On the uppermost step rest the
plinth and socket stone, both square in section and constructed of limestone.
The plinth is simply chamfered, while the socket stone is carved with
architectural ornament: at the centre of each side is a shield flanked by
single vertical panels with round-trefoil heads, and at the corners are panels
including a stylised cross motif formed by four radiating semicircles.
Both the plinth and the socket stone are believed to be medieval in date. Set
into the centre of the socket stone is a post-medieval shaft constructed of
two pieces of sandstone, square in section at the base and rising above
moulded and chamfered corners in tapering octagonal section. The knop is also
octagonal and is decorated with recessed panels containing shields. Above it,
on three receding stages, stands the head in the form of a plain modern cross.
The full height of the cross is approximately 5.4m.

All modern paving and posts where they lie within the protected area are
excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them 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.

Spilsby market cross is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a
stepped base and carved socket stone. Situated in the marketplace, 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 monument's construction and use in this location are
likely to survive intact. While parts of the cross survive 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 & Queries' in Ancient Stone Crosses in Lindsey and Holland Divisions of Lincs, , Vol. XIII no7, (1915), 214-215

Source: Historic England

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