Volume V | Chapter 1 | Earlier Research Next Back to catalogue index
by P. Everson and D. Stocker

Like so much of Lincolnshire's archaeology, the county's early medieval stone sculpture has been under-studied and its potential largely unrealised. The principal sources readily available to modern scholarship have been two journal articles, that prepared by D. S. Davies with the encouragement of A. W. Clapham (Davies 1926) and the additional discoveries catalogued by L. A. S. Butler (1963–4). Yet the tradition of enquiry has been longer, if piecemeal. It has lacked the academic focus of a long-standing local archaeological society or a major museum to act as a ready collection point for discoveries. In consequence the late eighteenth-century finds of Caistor 1 and Lincoln City (Broadgate) 1 have disappeared, both apparently within Lincoln, and may await rediscovery, perhaps literally by re-excavation. Kirton in Lindsey 2 has been lost, and the discovery of Northorpe 1 at Northorpe Hall was followed by its transportation to Durham through the initiative of J. T. Fowler to form part of the Cathedral Library collection (Haverfield and Greenwell 1899; Cramp 1965). By contrast, since the early 1970s the City and County Museum at Lincoln has taken considerable quantities of early medieval stone sculpture into its care, generally because of direct threat to its survival (Digby 1); church redundancy (Lincoln St Mark 2, 3 and 16, Miningsby 1, Little Carlton 1); formal excavation (the remaining large collection from Lincoln St Mark and St Paul-in-the-Bail); or other causes (Bardney 1, Glentham 1).

As elsewhere in the country, it was an interest in inscriptions that turned the attention of eighteenth-century antiquaries like Stukeley, Johnson and Horsley to items such as Lincoln St Mary-le-Wigford 6 and the Guthlac Stone (Crowland 2). It was the same preoccupation that brought Caistor 1 quickly to wide antiquarian attention following its discovery in 1770. A comparable enthusiasm for its runic inscription contributed similarly to the weight of early notices of the cross-shaft at Crowle (Crowle 1) in the mid and later nineteenth century; this was coupled, as was the case with Caistor 1, with a misdirected desire to associate the monument with specific historical events (e.g. Hunt 1924), typical of contemporary antiquarianism. This narrow emphasis makes the observation and recording of Lincoln City (Broadgate) 1 in 1794 by the Rev. John Carter (1762–1829) all the more remarkable.

One of Carter's school pupils was the notable Lincoln antiquary and architect, E. J. Willson (1787–1854: Colvin 1995, 1061–2; Finch 1986), but pre-Conquest sculpture did not impinge on his Lincoln-centred interests – published engravings of Hackthorn 1 and 2 being based on drawings by his son later in the century (Jarvis 1850; Willson 1885). Pre-Conquest fragments from Stow were the principal illustrated item of that era in Charles Boutell's national survey of medieval funerary monuments (Boutell 1854), but it is not clear how this came to be so. The mid nineteenth-century collection of material towards a county history made by John Ross (1801–1870) did gather up some drawings of pre-Conquest sculpture, but simply as items within a parochial framework and without discussion or synthesis (Lincoln Central Library, Ross MSS). Rather, it was the accelerating programme of church restoration from the mid nineteenth century onwards that both gave rise to the discovery of sculptural items and caused in some cases notice of them to appear in the archaeological and antiquarian literature. Despite the creation of a county architectural and archaeological society in the later 1840s (Sturman 1994; Leach 1994–5), such notice was still very much a hit-and-miss affair that depended on the antiquarian inclinations of individual incumbents. Edwin Jarvis, who reported on the discovery of Hackthorn 1 at his own church, and J. A. Penny, who reported on Lusby 2, Mavis Enderby 1, and Miningsby 1, both had well-established and wider antiquarian interests, for example (Jarvis 1850; Penny 1918). Other discoveries were made with little or no notice and no scholarly comment, even in such an important case as the group of stones that make up South Kyme 1.

But a further factor came into play in the later nineteenth century that was as important in the long term as academic reporting or probably more so. This was the interest and awareness of church architects – and perhaps in some cases of their clients too – in archaeological information and increasingly in archaeological correctness. For Lincolnshire, the new antiquarian societies and the visit of the Archaeological Institute to Lincoln in 1846 were both the result of, and a steady stimulus to, this trend. A prime example of this care was Charles Kirk Junior (1825–1902) of the Sleaford-based 'dynasty' of architects and builders (Antram 1989, 68–9). From the early 1850s to the 1880s Kirk was directly involved in at least thirty substantial church restoration or rebuilding projects, predominantly on the limestone churches of central Kesteven around Sleaford. There is ample evidence in the surviving fabrics to suggest his careful reuse of medieval architectural detailing, here and there making up openings from old bits as at Newton St Botolph, or forming notable collections of early fragments as at Burton Pedwardine. In Sleaford, the fabrics of several of his secular buildings are repositories of a mass of decorated medieval fragments, presumed to originate in Kirk's church restorations (Pevsner et al. 1989, 656: notably the Manor House and nearby outbuildings, and cottages and a folly formerly belonging to Westholme House, home of his partner, Thomas Parry). The house that Kirk built for himself, latterly Sleaford Girls High School, has two pre-Conquest fragments (Sleaford 1a and b) surviving from what is reported to have been a larger collection.

The enthusiasm that Kirk exemplifies in setting reused early fragments in wall fabric or sometimes in more prominent positions is seen in unselective displays such as those in the external walls of the south aisles at Lincoln St Mary-le-Wigford and Bracebridge, which nevertheless are quite deliberate and antiquarian in intention (Stocker with Everson 1990).

National academic interest, while not absent, was not necessarily well informed: Romilly Allen's publication of a skeletal list of pre-Conquest sculpture known to him principally from published sources (Allen and Browne 1885, 356) marks a milestone and stimulated some reaction. J. A. Penny corresponded with him (BL, Add. MSS 37550, ff. 772, 801–4). This had the two-way effect of adding authority to Penny's local publication (1894–5a) and providing the national expert with additional examples to augment what amounted to only 17 items from 12 locations as the current state of knowledge. In J. T. Fowler (1833–1924), however, Lincolnshire had a native scholar of national standing, who interested himself in the county's ecclesiastical antiquities and particularly its pre-Conquest sculpture on more than a parochial basis. Though best known for the eleven volumes he contributed to the Surtees Society's series alone, Fowler was instrumental in 1867 in cleaning and recording the Crowle 1 shaft while it was still set as a doorway lintel, removing masking stones and revealing part of the runic inscription. In August 1869 he organised the shaft's temporary removal; casts, rubbings and photographs were taken that made the stone accessible for study by a wider and specialist scholarly world (Stephens 1884a). In the same period, though absent from the county serving as chaplain and precentor at St John's College at Hurstpierpoint (1864–69), he himself recorded by rubbings and fair drawings Anglo-Saxon fragments at Humberston (Humberston 1), as well as the tympanum Kirton in Lindsey 1 and the new discoveries of Kirton 2 and Northorpe 1 through rubbings by F. George (Fowler MS correspondence; Fowler 1867–70a). He was subsequently the agent for the removal of Northorpe 1 to Durham. Fowler (1896) summarised the results of his gathering of new information, the earliest of which had already appeared piecemeal elsewhere and been included in Romilly Allen's list (cf. BL, Add. MSS 37550, ff. 786–9; 37551, ff. 91–2).

The seminal work of David Stedman Davies built on these beginnings. Davies was rector of North Witham, near the county boundary with Rutland from 1897 until his retirement to Llandrindod Wells in 1927; to Bishop Hicks in 1915 he was 'quite a discovery ... A good antiquary, and accurate. His special study is old churchyard village crosses of Lincolnshire: these he photographs, searching for them everywhere on bicycle with his wife' (Neville 1993, 120). Through these enthusiasms for cycling and photography, both shared with Fowler, he notably extended the component of fieldwork in this branch of study. In 1901 he produced a History of North Witham, and noted as the earliest evidence the fragment of pre-Conquest cross-shaft in the church (North Witham 1) and the further fragments at Colsterworth and Stoke Rochford (Davies 1901, 4). His role as diocesan inspector of schools from 1900 to 1908 caused him to travel widely in the county; he was elected a member of the Archaeological Institute in 1909, a year in which the Institute's summer meeting was again held in Lincoln ((——) 1909), and he was one of the five founding members of the Lincoln Record Society in 1910. Articles on the ancient crosses of the neighbourhood appeared in the Grantham Journal in February and March 1911, under the title 'Ancient Stone Crosses in Lincolnshire', reprinted as the pamphlet Saxon, Mediaeval and Modern Crosses in Lincolnshire (Davies 1911). But the scholarly substance of Davies's researches were published in his series of papers in Lincolnshire Notes and Queries (Davies 1912–13, 1914–15 and 1916–17, with some additional information in Davies 1915). It was not until a decade later, with the prompting and help of A. W. Clapham, that his paper on the Anglo-Saxon stones alone was produced for the Archaeological Journal, listing 92 stones from 49 locations in the county (Davies 1926). As Davies himself recalled, that paper was limited to brief notes summarising his manuscript work on the subject (MS correspondence in the library of the Louth Antiquarians and Naturalists Society). That manuscript passed into the hands of G. Baldwin Brown, who used it in his final volume of The Arts in Early England (Brown 1937).

Parallel to Davies's modestly conceived gathering of information were the studies of Anglo-Saxon and overlap architectural survivals in the county by the formidable polymath, Professor Alexander Hamilton Thompson (Thompson 1907–8; 1911; 1946; and see Smith 1992). Architectural remains, too, were taken up with authority by Baldwin Brown (Brown 1925), and the archaeological approach of these two scholars was adopted and extended a generation later by the synoptic studies of Harold Taylor and his wife (Taylor and Taylor 1961; 1965; 1966).

By contrast, after Davies's fieldwork largely during the years before the First World War, work on the non-architectural sculpture for a long period became restricted to comment by scholars of national standing on a very small range of the material from an exclusively art-historical perspective. Quite typically, Davies's last contribution was a note on the newly discovered cross-head from Conisholme (Davies 1926–7), but at the same time Canon Longley, who made the discovery and was himself a historical scholar of no mean ability (Sturman 1992b), sought the specialist opinions of W. G. Collingwood and C. R. Peers, which by the chance of Longley's death were never published (MS correspondence in library of Louth Antiquarians and Naturalists Society). Baldwin Brown himself made a narrowly selective use of Davies's work (Brown 1937 on Creeton 1 and 7, Northorpe 1, and South Kyme 1), and in the wide-ranging nature of his studies was followed by the scholarly tradition of Clapham (1934 on South Kyme 1), Kendrick (1938 on Edenham 1 and South Kyme 1; 1949) and Talbot Rice (1952 on Conisholme 1 and Crowle 1).

It took fieldwork by L. A. S. Butler in the late 1950s towards a doctoral thesis (Butler 1961) – and another bicycle! – to give the study a new impetus. Butler (1963–4) added 19 fragments at 13 locations to the body of published evidence. But, probably more importantly, his work served to outline the continuing traditions of funerary sculpture in the post-Conquest period and to assert their interest, and to do so over a wide area of eastern England (Butler 1952; 1957; 1964). This in turn allowed a better definition of the large quantities and varied types of eleventh-century and overlap material, to which previously the work of Fox in Cambridgeshire (Fox 1920–1) offered the best guide.

In the same tradition, intermittent fieldwork by Paul Everson during the 1970s newly identified or confirmed further stones that lay outside the body of knowledge represented by the published work of Butler and Davies. These included Lincoln St Mary-le-Wigford 1, 2a, 4 and 5, Great Hale 1, Holton le Clay 1, Marton 8 and 11, Stow 5, Glentworth 1, Hackthorn 2 and Theddlethorpe St Helen 1. Although not published independently, this survey both fed into the Corpus project and contributed to others' work (Stocker 1986a, fn. 4).

Excavation, particularly at St Mark's in Lincoln, has latterly added greatly to an appreciation of the amount and variety of sculpture which could be found in one urban graveyard. It has given important evidence, too, of the contexts of use and reuse. From that one site, excavation provided a body of information capable of sustaining a substantial study of the local medieval funerary tradition (Stocker 1986a). At St Peter's in Barton-upon-Humber, too, the Rodwells' work, combining excavation and fabric recording, was an exemplary exercise in providing an understanding of the context for the use and absence of sculpture (Rodwell and Rodwell 1982; Bryant 1994). Isolated examples among others of the county's many redundant churches, for example Little Carlton 1, have also shown that, were adequate archaeological provision the norm rather than the exception, a flow of new information might be expected from the processes of redundancy, alteration and demolition to compare with that resulting from the phase of later nineteenth-century church restoration.

The more recent work of Richard Morris (1989), Richard Gem (1986; 1988; 1993b) and others (e.g. Blair 1988; Blair and Sharpe 1992) on the historical development of ecclesiastical provision and parochial structure has repeatedly found Lincolnshire a fruitful source of evidence. Such current insights in this field of study provide a framework for exploiting the evidence that the sculpture has to offer (see Chapter 8).

By contrast, direct study of the sculpture has largely continued a long-standing art-historical bias and concentration on the limited number of stylish pieces from the county (e.g. Wilson 1984, 81; Webster and Backhouse 1991, 242). More particularly it has focused on those felt relevant to the analysis of Mercian schools of sculpture of the eighth and ninth centuries, such as the Edenham shaft and roundels and the fragments at South Kyme, through an important series of papers by Rosemary Cramp (1972; 1977; 1978) and S. J. Plunkett's doctoral thesis (1984). An exception has been Elizabeth Coatsworth's thematic study of Crucifixion iconography in England, which included Barton-upon-Humber 1, Conisholme 1, Harmston 1, Marton 6, and Ropsley 2, and rejected on grounds of date or interpretation Lusby 1, and Langton by Spilsby 1 (Coatsworth 1979; 1988).

In 1960 Canon Peter Binnall, chairman of the Lincoln Diocesan Advisory Committee, lobbied the Central Council for the Care of Churches to promote the systematic identification of Anglo-Saxon sculpture, and its better preservation thereby (Binnall correspondence). This initiative came to nothing immediately, but is an exceptional indication of a tradition of informed antiquarian concern within Lincolnshire, whose concerns find some fulfilment in this volume.


Early appraisals of the known Lincolnshire material prior to the Corpus project had readily identified the potential for isolating certain standard monument groups, such as the Lindsey covers and markers (Stocker 1986a, 59–62 and fn. 8). A preliminary attempt was even made to investigate the petrology of those two groups (Everson and Gill 1977). From this arose the authors' decision to visit all medieval church sites in the county in search of fragments lying loose or built into fabric.1 While it cannot be claimed that all fragments that exist have been noted, the volume of material has nevertheless increased greatly from the 111 fragments at 62 locations recorded by Davies and Butler to the 371 stones discussed here from 160 locations (excluding Appendix F, see below), and gives some confidence that the distribution patterns have a validity at least as great as most categories of archaeological material. Since the distribution of standard monument types extends beyond Lincolnshire, systematic visits to the recorded sculpture in the adjacent counties of Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk were undertaken, and these inform the published distribution maps in Chapter 5 but cannot be taken to be exhaustive.

Overlap architectural sculpture of the sort that has conventionally been termed 'Anglo-Saxon' (Taylor and Taylor 1965) originally formed part of the fieldwork and recording, on the premise that it either was pre-Conquest stone sculpture, or had certainly been alleged to be so, or it belonged to the so-called overlap period. It might therefore seem to be material for the main catalogue or for Appendix A, or exceptionally for Appendix B. It survives in some quantity in Lincolnshire, principally as capitals for the distinctive double belfry openings on church towers, but also in string-courses, window heads and decorative detailing of other openings. With the advent of a national Corpus programme for Romanesque sculpture, it was decided following consultation between the two general editors that this earliest Romanesque material, which is post-Conquest in date (see below, Chapters 6 and 9), properly belonged with the Romanesque rather than the Anglo-Saxon Corpus. A bare listing of the items considered relevant, with bibliography, is given as Appendix E. Unedited catalogue entries drafted in the Anglo-Saxon Corpus format are deposited in the Durham archive.2

Grave-markers and -covers with cross pattée motifs (Gittos and Gittos 1986, xxviii) have occasionally been noted in earlier Corpus volumes. In Lincolnshire they appear to be an eleventh- to thirteenth-century phenomenon, and are extremely numerous. Examples unsystematically noted during research for this volume are listed in Appendix F. This does not aim to be a comprehensive list of cross pattée monuments and is not supported by drawn or photographic field records, but it might form the starting point for a separate study.

The standard Corpus requirement for identification of stone type was seen from its initiation as particularly important for this volume, because of the material's potential for illuminating distribution, source and organisation of production. At a specialist level, this task has been undertaken by Dr Bernard Worssam (kindly taking it on at a late stage), with assistance from Dr John Senior in the case of the small number of gritstone monuments found in the north of the county. In the event, it has not proved practically possible to extend the petrological identifications to all catalogue items. This circumstance is reflected in the form of the ' stone type ' entry. Where a direct inspection has been made by Dr Worssam or Dr Senior, a full description is given including Munsell colour value and other petrographic details. This covers almost exactly 50% of items in the main catalogue and Appendix A, and includes all or almost all items in a stone of Barnack type, since a systematic attempt was made to see whether a distinction might be perceived at this level of inspection between stone from the Barnack area and from the nearby Clipsham area. Other entries for stone type are supplied by the volume authors and distinguished both by square brackets [ ] and by their simpler form. In some cases, the volume authors' confidence in identifying a distinctive type, checked against the experience of shared fieldwork with Dr Worssam, has resulted in a specific summary identification though without the detailed petrographic description. This applies most obviously to the fine quality Ancaster Freestone of the Inferior Oolite Group employed for the whole group of mid-Kesteven covers (see Chapter 5) and a number of crosses. In other cases the characterisation is expressed negatively, e.g. ' Lincolnshire Limestone but not Ancaster or Barnack types', with only as a last resort simply undifferentiated 'Lincolnshire Limestone'.


1. Field records comprising annotated drawn sketches with dimensions and locational notes, plus the negatives of 35mm black-and-white record photography and a visiting schedule, will be deposited with the archive in Durham for consultation.

2. Some discussion of this material will be included in a monograph by the authors on the Romanesque west towers in Lincolnshire (Stocker and Everson forthcoming).

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