Churchyard cross, St Swithun's churchyard
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Jul-2019 at 21:48:06.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- South Kesteven (District Authority)
- Long Bennington
- National Grid Reference:
- SK 84355 43866
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 Long Bennington is a good example of the integral shaft and knop of a medieval standing cross. Situated near the south porch, it 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. It has not been restored and has continued in use as a public monument and amenity from medieval times to the present day.
The monument includes a standing stone cross located in the churchyard of St
Swithun's Church, Long Bennington, approximately 6m south east of the south
porch. The cross is constructed of limestone and is medieval in date with
later alterations. The monument includes the base, comprising a socket-stone,
and the shaft. The cross is a Grade II Listed Building.
The socket-stone is partly buried and partly broken away. The original upper surface of the stone covered an area roughly 0.65m square; the eastern side is now rectangular in section, the western rounded. The south western corner stands up to 0.08m above the ground surface, representing the former height of the socket-stone. The shaft is of simple, square section within the socket- stone and rectangular above, rising through chamfered corners in octagonal section. It is constructed of two stones fixed together with iron clamps dating from the late 19th/early 20th century. The upper stone widens out at the top into a plain rectangular knop; in the centre is a small hole containing an iron pin onto which the head was formerly fixed. The full height of the shaft is 1.47m.
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