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Cross in St Nicholas's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in North Cotes, Lincolnshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.485 / 53°29'6"N

Longitude: 0.0337 / 0°2'1"E

OS Eastings: 535039.250002

OS Northings: 400625.250002

OS Grid: TA350006

Mapcode National: GBR XXP4.2F

Mapcode Global: WHHJ7.HN8P

Entry Name: Cross in St Nicholas's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 18 September 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018297

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22731

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: North Cotes

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: North Coates St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln

Details

The monument includes the base, which takes the form of a socket stone, of a
standing stone cross located in the churchyard of St Nicholas's Church to the
south east of the south porch. The cross is medieval in date and is
constructed of limestone.

The socket stone, which is partly buried, is square in section at the base and
rises through moulded and chamfered corners to a top of octagonal section. The
socket, which is now empty, is square in section. Into it would formerly have
been fitted the cross shaft and head.

The gravestone which lies to the north of the cross is excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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 St Nicholas's Church represent a good
example of a medieval standing cross with a square base. Situated to the
south east of the south porch it is believed to stand in its original
position. The part burial of the socket stone, and minimal disturbance of the
area immediately surrounding the cross, indicate that archaeological deposits
relating to its construction and use in this location will survive intact.

Source: Historic England

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