Churchyard cross, St Andrew's churchyard


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


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross, St Andrew's churchyard
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Kesteven (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TF 14292 44107

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 St Andrew's Church, Heckington, is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a stepped base. Limited disturbance in the area immediately surrounding the cross indicates that archaeological deposits relating to its construction and use in this location are likely to survive intact. The cross has been little altered in modern times and has continued in use as a public monument and amenity from medieval times to the present day.


The monument includes the remains of a standing stone cross located in the churchyard of St Andrew's Church, Heckington, approximately 8m to the south west of the south transept. The cross is constructed of limestone and is principally medieval in date. The monument includes the base, comprising three steps, a plinth and a socket stone, and a fragment of the shaft, which are medieval in date; and a brick kerb and core, which date from an early 20th century restoration.

The remains of the medieval cross stand in a flat area, approximately square in shape, defined by a brick kerb of early 20th century date. The kerb is largely buried and is most clearly visible on the northern side of the cross. The base of the cross includes three steps built around a modern brick core; they are roughly square in plan and cover an area about 2.8m square. The lowest step is partially buried so that the top of the step is largely level with the ground surface, and on the top step are the remains of iron clamps believed to date from the early 20th century restoration. The plinth is 0.98m square at the base and chamfered above to a height of 0.13m. On the plinth rests the socket stone, a single block standing 0.6m high above the plinth and measuring 0.8m square in section. The upper edge of the socket stone is chamfered. In the top of the socket stone is the socket, rectangular in section, into which the shaft fragment is set with lead. The shaft fragment has moulded and chamfered corners, above which it tapers in octagonal section to a height of 0.71m above the socket stone. In each of the east and west faces of the shaft is the stub of an iron fitting. The full surviving height of the cross is approximately 1m. The cross is 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:


Books and journals
Trollope, E, Sleaford, and the Wapentakes of Flaxwell and Arwardhun, (1872), 396
'Kelly's Directory' in Kelly's Directory of Lincolnshire, (1909), 296
Davies, D S, 'Lincolnshire Notes and Queries' in Ancient Stone Crosses in Kesteven, , Vol. XII no.5, (1913), 142


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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