Spilsby market cross


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013534

Date first listed: 11-Nov-1969

Date of most recent amendment: 10-Oct-1995


Ordnance survey map of Spilsby market cross
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lincolnshire

District: East Lindsey (District Authority)

Parish: Spilsby

National Grid Reference: TF 40299 66118


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.

Spilsby market cross is a good example of a medieval standing cross with a stepped base and carved socket stone. Situated in the marketplace, it is believed to stand in or near its original position. Limited development 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 survive from medieval times, subsequent restoration has resulted in its continued function as a public monument and amenity.


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


The monument includes Spilsby market cross, a Grade II Listed standing stone cross located on the eastern side of the marketplace. The cross is of stepped form and is medieval in origin with later additions. The monument includes the base, composed of five steps, a plinth and a socket stone, and the shaft, knop and head.

The base includes five steps of limestone blocks, medieval in origin, which were later rebuilt with the inclusion of sandstone flags. Further additions were made in the present century when the lowest step was raised and the top of the uppermost step chamfered with a layer of concrete. All the steps are square in plan, covering an area approximately 3.9m square, and are joined with mortar and the remains of iron clamps. On the uppermost step rest the plinth and socket stone, both square in section and constructed of limestone. The plinth is simply chamfered, while the socket stone is carved with architectural ornament: at the centre of each side is a shield flanked by single vertical panels with round-trefoil heads, and at the corners are panels including a stylised cross motif formed by four radiating semicircles. Both the plinth and the socket stone are believed to be medieval in date. Set into the centre of the socket stone is a post-medieval shaft constructed of two pieces of sandstone, square in section at the base and rising above moulded and chamfered corners in tapering octagonal section. The knop is also octagonal and is decorated with recessed panels containing shields. Above it, on three receding stages, stands the head in the form of a plain modern cross. The full height of the cross is approximately 5.4m.

All modern paving and posts where they lie within the protected area are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them is included.

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: 22697

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Davies, D S, 'Lincolnshire Notes & Queries' in Ancient Stone Crosses in Lindsey and Holland Divisions of Lincs, , Vol. XIII no7, (1915), 214-215

End of official listing