Churchyard cross, St Mary's churchyard


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross, St Mary's churchyard
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Kesteven (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 89284 43704

Reasons for Designation

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 churchyard cross at Marston is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a stepped base which was restored in the early post-medieval period. Situated near the south porch, the cross is believed to stand in or near its original position. Limited disturbance 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 have survived from medieval times, the post-medieval restoration has resulted in its continued function as a public monument and amenity.


The monument includes a medieval churchyard cross located in the churchyard of St Mary's Church, Marston, approximately 4m south of the south east corner of the south porch. The cross is medieval in origin with post-medieval additions. The monument includes the base, comprising two steps, a socket-stone and plinth, and the shaft and head.

The base of the cross takes the form of two steps, a socket-stone and a plinth. The steps are formed of rectangular slabs of limestone and are square in section: the lower is about 1.4m square and the upper 1.05m square. On the upper step rests the socket-stone, a large block approximately 0.74m square and 0.66m high. It is of typical medieval form, plain with broaches (semi-pyramidal shaped blocks) and chamfered upper corners creating a top of octagonal section. Into the top of the stone has been cut a large recess, 0.54m square in section and about 20mm deep, into which the plinth is set. The plinth is about 0.27m high, of square section at the base with slightly chamfered upper corners, and with a moulded architectural base of circular section above. Both the plinth and the recess into which the plinth fits are post-medieval in date. Resting on the top of the plinth is the shaft, also post-medieval, composed of two stones fixed together with iron clamps. They are round in section and taper slightly upwards. The top of the upper stone is slightly chamfered to fit to the head, which takes the form of a block of triangular section below a moulding, also triangular in section, with a rounded, spherical top. There are iron brackets fixed to all three sides of the triangular block which form the gnomen of sundials on all three sides. The whole of the shaft and its head is post-medieval in date. The full height of the cross is nearly 3m. This cross is also Listed Grade II.

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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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