Standing cross at the junction of Holywell Lane with High Street, Maltby Lane and Ashton Lane


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011852

Date first listed: 24-May-1951

Date of most recent amendment: 13-Apr-1995


Ordnance survey map of Standing cross at the junction of Holywell Lane with High Street, Maltby Lane and Ashton Lane
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Doncaster (Metropolitan Authority)

Parish: Braithwell

National Grid Reference: SK 53088 94434


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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.

Although restored and missing some of its original components, the Braithwell Cross is a good example of an inscribed medieval standing cross which, being in its original location, also preserves the medieval land surface on which it was set up. Though suffering from the effects of weathering, its inscription is still reasonably well preserved and is a rare and interesting example of a medieval public dedication.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument is a restored medieval standing cross located at an ancient crossroads in the centre of Braithwell. It comprises the calvary, socle and part of the shaft of the medieval cross together with a number of later elements.

The calvary or stepped base of the cross appears originally to have consisted of three magnesian limestone steps rising to a height of c.70cm. Although the core and foundations of the original bottom step will survive, the treads were replaced in Roche Abbey stone in the late 19th century. The later step, which is believed to conform closely in size to the original, is c.2m square and has a chamfered top edge inscribed `Erected about 1191. Restored 1887, the jubilee year of Queen Victoria'.

The socle or socket stone of the cross is also of magnesian limestone and measures c.90cm square by 60cm high. It is octagonal with pyramid stops on alternate faces and bears a Norman French inscription round the top edge which reads `jesy lefiz:MAIREPANSETOOLIERI:MORROI:QEVVS:PRIE'. This has been translated as `Jesus, the son of Mary, remember our king and deliver him I pray'. Also inscribed in the socle, on its north face, is the date MCXCI. This latter inscription is not thought to be original but it is not clear when it was added. Set into the socle is the bottom part of a cross shaft comprising a 30cm high square sectioned magnesian limestone column with a pedestal and fluted capital. This would originally have supported a further shaft and cross head which is now missing. The scale of the surviving section suggests that the missing cross shaft was quite slender and may, therefore, have been made of wood though this is entirely conjectural.

Originally the socle would have been mounted directly on top of the calvary. However, currently between the two are two blocks of Roche Abbey stone, one of which carries a plaque inscribed `This cross was erected to commemorate the freeing from bondage of KING RICHARD I circa 1191. Restored in the Coronation year of Her Majesty QUEEN ELIZABETH II 1953'. The suggestion that the medieval cross was dedicated to Richard I appears to have originated in the 19th century when the Norman inscription was attributed to a friend or retainer of Haneline, Earl Warenne, who was Henry II's half brother and, therefore, Richard's uncle. However, this may not be true as some authorities have dated the style of lettering to the late 13th century, a century after Richard's reign.

Excluded from the scheduling are the railings enclosing the cross and the flagpole and modern paved surface inside the railings although the ground beneath these features is included. The 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: 23398

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Armitage, E S, Key to English Antiquities, (1905), 201
Hunter, J, South Yorkshire, (1828), 135
Miller, E , The History and Antiquities of Doncaster, (1804), 247
Morris, J E, West Riding of Yorkshire, (1932), 134
'Journal of the British Antiquarian Association' in Journal of the British Antiquarian Association, , Vol. 44, (1888), 107
Shackleton Hill, Angela, (1994)

End of official listing