Stump Cross


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010674

Date first listed: 06-Jan-1995


Ordnance survey map of Stump Cross
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lincolnshire

District: Boston (District Authority)

Parish: Swineshead

National Grid Reference: TF 23935 39717

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 Stump Cross at Swineshead is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a quadrangular base and octagonal shaft. It stands near its original position at a road junction which is believed to have been of significance in medieval times and is traditionally associated with a former market. Archaeological deposits relating both to the monument's construction in this location and to earlier activity on the site are likely to survive intact. The cross has been little altered in modern times, having continued in use as a public monument and amenity from medieval times to the present day.


The monument includes Stump Cross, Swineshead, a standing stone cross located on the north west side of the road junction between South Street and Stump Cross Lane. This junction is believed to have been an important one in medieval and later times, and is traditionally identified with the site of a former market. The cross takes the form of a base, comprising a socket stone, and a shaft, all of which are medieval in date with modern repairs. The cross stands at the centre of a modern concrete platform which is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

The socket stone is roughly 0.85m square in section with moulded corners. The north and east sides retain the remains of carved decoration. Set into the centre of the socket stone is the shaft, approximately 0.33m square in section at the base rising through chamfered corners in tapering octagonal section to a height of about 1.6m. The shaft is pinned into the socket stone with iron clamps, and there is another clamp at the top where the shaft terminates in a flat surface which represents the full original extent of the stone. The full surviving height of the cross is about 2m. Stump Cross is Listed Grade II.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number: 22667

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Allen, T, The History of the County of Lincoln, (1830), 357
Davies, D S, 'Lincolnshire Notes & Queries' in Ancient Stone Crosses in Lindsey and Holland Divisions of Lincs, , Vol. XIII no7, (1915), 219
Healey, R Hilary, (1994)
Lincolnshire County Council Highways Dept., (1994)
Ordnance Survey record, Harper, F.R., TF 23 NW 5, (1965)
Title: Ordnance Survey 6" (2nd Edition) Source Date: 1904 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing