Ancient Monuments

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Medieval standing cross known as the Hurl Stone, 900m north west of Newtown Mill

A Scheduled Monument in Lilburn, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5162 / 55°30'58"N

Longitude: -1.9389 / 1°56'20"W

OS Eastings: 403952.853272

OS Northings: 624715.915783

OS Grid: NU039247

Mapcode National: GBR G4XN.0F

Mapcode Global: WH9ZR.5MY2

Entry Name: Medieval standing cross known as the Hurl Stone, 900m north west of Newtown Mill

Scheduled Date: 26 November 1932

Last Amended: 27 August 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015479

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29301

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Lilburn

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Chatton with Chillingham

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the shaft of a standing cross of medieval date situated
in a prominent position on top of a small hill near Newtown; there are
extensive views in all directions. It consists of a tapering cross shaft,
square in section, which measures 0.5m by 0.36m at the base, and stands c.4m
high. The stone is set into a rectangular socket stone, 1.4m by 1.5m, which
stands 0.46m high. The shaft does not appear to have been carved with any
decorative motifs and only bears later graffiti carved on some faces. The
history of the stone is somewhat uncertain: this might be its original
position or it may have been moved from a site near the road. It is known to
have been erected in the socket stone in the early 19th century after the
upper portion was struck off by lightning and this may be commemorated by the
date 1838 and a cross symbol which is carved in one face. The socket stone
stands in the centre of a low circular earth mound 7m in diameter and 0.1m to
0.2m high.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 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 Hurl Stone early medieval standing cross survives reasonably well and is a
prominent landscape feature.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dodds, M H, A History of Northumberland, (1935), 323-324
NU 02 SW 7,

Source: Historic England

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