Churchyard cross, St Margaret's churchyard, Somersby
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1013536
Date first listed: 06-Nov-1995
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: East Lindsey (District Authority)
Parish: Greetham with Somersby
National Grid Reference: TF 34371 72651
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 Margaret's Church, Somersby, is a rare example of a complete medieval standing cross. Situated to the south east of the south porch it is believed to stand in or near its original position, and archaeological deposits relating to the monument's construction and use are likely to survive intact. The cross has continued in use as a public monument and amenity from medieval times to the present day.
The monument includes a Grade II Listed standing stone cross located in the
churchyard of St Margaret's Church, Somersby, to the south east of the south
porch. The cross is medieval in date and is constructed of limestone. The
monument includes the foundation, base, shaft, knop and head.
The cross stands on the edge of a raised area of the churchyard which is cut away on the south and east by churchyard paths. On these sides the cross foundation is visible; it is constructed of stone and concrete, which is principally modern in date. On it rests the base, which takes the form of a socket stone of square section with slightly chamfered upper corners. Set into the socket stone with lead is the shaft, rectangular in section at the base and then rising above moulded and chamfered corners in tapering octagonal section. The knop is moulded, and above it the head takes the form of a plain gabled cross shaped as a continuation of the tapering shaft. On the south face of the cross-head is carved a representation of the Crucifixion, and on the north face is the figure of the Virgin Mary. The full height of the cross is about 4m.
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: 22700
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), 212-213
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