Volume V | Chapter 8 | ConclusionsNext Back to catalogue index
by P. Everson and D. Stocker


production and distribution

Lincolnshire's abundance of good stone from the Jurassic limestone ridge (and also its poorer, though still serviceable stones from the Wolds) were used, and presumably formally quarried in the Roman period (Whitwell 1970, 115–16), most obviously for the great corporate undertakings such as town defences (Fenton 1980). There is some direct evidence of reuse of Roman limestone masonry for Anglo-Saxon stone sculpture with the examples of Bardney 2, Lincoln Cathedral 2, and in the special case of Lincoln St Mary-le-Wigford 6 (cf. Stocker with Everson 1990, 93–4). Bardney 2 might belong early in the period, though on little stronger evidence than its masonry techniques of Roman type and the early context at Bardney; the other two belong unequivocally to the tenth and eleventh century. Evidence for the availability and deliberate recycling of Roman limestone masonry in quantity towards the end of the period and beyond lies also in architectural contexts, as notably in the tower arch at Alkborough (ibid., 90–1). The same process is well documented for the Yorkshire Millstone Grit, both as a building stone in early church fabrics and in reuse for sculptured monuments (Morris 1988; Buckland 1988; Senior 1991, 11–13). Such reuse is probably the source for such gritstone monuments of the early tenth century in northern Lincolnshire as Crowle 1, Holton le Clay 1 and Thornton Curtis 1. In the case of the figured panel, baluster shafts and label stops at Barton-upon-Humber (Barton-upon-Humber 1–8), Dr Senior has proposed to us that the careful choice of the more durable brown stone type rather than the softer and less durable reddened variety of Millstone Grit for all the baluster shafts, coupled with the sheer quantity of the material in this building, actually indicate that here the stone was newly cut from the quarry area and not derived from Roman buildings in York or elsewhere (pers. comm.), but the reported evidence of 'Lewis' and cramp holes gainsays this suggestion (Bryant, G. 1994, 119–20).

The very small quantity of pre-Viking stone sculpture and its association arguably with early monasteries or monastic holdings, as with Bardney 2, Caistor 1, Redbourne 1 and South Kyme 1 (see below; Stocker 1993), and in non-funerary monuments, make it possible that stone was supplied by reuse, or gift, in the manner of Etheldreda's coffin (Bede 1969, 394, iv .19). There may have been only limited quarrying directly in monastic or royal hands. This is clearly not the case in the later pre-Conquest period. The groups of products and patterns of stone source elucidated in Chapter 5 preclude any notion of roving artist/masons moving from village to village cutting monuments to their distinctive designs in whatever stone was provided. Rather they indicate quarry-based and commercial operations, in which the quality of the stone itself may well have been a significant part of the value of the monument.

Furthermore, we should probably make the assumption that the grave-cover and shaft groups were made in quarries which were producing a variety of products, for building works for example, and which turned their skills to funerary monuments only when they were required. It is clear that the quarries around Lincoln were not only producing stone for grave-covers at the same time as for a cross such as that at Conisholme, for example, but were probably, at least by the earlier part of the eleventh century, also producing stone for the first generation of stone-built churches in the city (Stocker 1986b, 85). The Ancaster group of quarries manufactured not only the mid-Kesteven group of grave-covers in remarkable quantity and to a notably standard formula, but other grave-cover and -marker types and a stream of cross-shafts of far less standard form, and also ashlar quoins and other architectural detailing over a wide area, including the massive quoin stones of the mid eleventh-century transept and crossing of the episcopal minster of St Mary at Stow (Taylor and Taylor 1965, 584–93; B. C. Worssam pers. comm.).

It is quite clearly the case from the patterns of distribution of the sculpture, and most strikingly from the major groups (see Chapter 5), that typically waterways were used to distribute these large and heavy objects that were nevertheless vulnerable to fracture. This is completely in line with wider patterns (Jope 1964; Alexander 1995) and with the evidence for transport of stone wherever it is documented in the later medieval period (Salzman 1913, 77 etc.; id. 1967, ch. 7). Indeed Salzman calculated that in the later period the costs of transport overland were greater than the costs of production on journeys over about twelve miles (1967, 119). Only in cases of short distances on well-made, i.e. former Roman, roads that are known from their persistence in the landscape to have been available, can the alternative of overland transport reasonably be considered a viable option, as perhaps with Ermine Street north of Lincoln. The examples of monuments distributed through the Lindsey coastal marshland, like the cross at Conisholme, indicate not only coastal shipping rather than overland cartage from the Lincoln Edge but again that trans-shipment from river-going punt or barge to sea-going craft may have been involved. Similar trans-shipment is certainly implied in the cases of several other products from Lincolnshire quarries which found their way to other counties (e.g. Figs. 7 and 13).

uses and incidence of stone funerary monuments

The quest for a seemly stone coffin for the exhumed remains of Etheldreda and similar incidents reported by Bede may indicate accurately the rarity of stone funerary monuments in eastern England in the pre-Viking period, and the specific context in which monuments of this general category were most likely to have been created, namely the display and veneration of saintly relics. Pre-Viking funerary monuments are rare in Lincolnshire, and that limited context for their use is apparently reflected in the elaborate monument represented by South Kyme 1 (Ills. 339–45) and with rather less certainty in Redbourne 1 (Ill. 314). Such shrines are indeed a notable feature of the stone sculpture in eastern Mercia (Cramp 1977). Otherwise the Lincolnshire evidence is of one major shaft, and monumental inscriptions and architectural detailing.

In the Anglo-Scandinavian period, the picture is fundamentally different in both quantity of sculpture and in its function. Grave-covers, -markers, and cross-shafts are evidenced in large numbers, in large numbers of places, and evidently as memorials of individual burials at a parochial level. There are exceptions. The Elloe Stone at Moulton (Ills. 171–2, 176–8) appears in its original function to be the marker of the wapentake meeting place, and the names of a handful of wapentakes throughout the country including Walshcroft in Lindsey indicate that such a marker was not unique (Anderson 1934; Cameron 1992, 1). The Guthlac Stone (Crowland 2; Ills. 456–7) has the function of a boundary marker, a role in which it certainly had predecessors. There are many crosses evidenced in place-names and local names, in medieval documents and maps – for example in the marking of the eastern and southern boundaries of Kesteven in the fourteenth century (see Chapter 2) – and even in surviving examples such as the White Cross on the east side of Mareham Lane in Scredington parish, that dotted the waysides of the medieval landscape and may have had pre-Conquest origins (Owen 1971, 2; and compare, for example, the early boundary marker known as Lypiatt Cross in Gloucestershire: Bryant, R. 1990).

More specifically, the major shaft at Brattleby (no. 1; Ills. 60–4, 66–7) is good evidence for the existence of a class of crosses that were intended to mark a graveyard rather than an individual grave. Its size, and therefore prominence and cost, might suggest this, though without precluding the possibility that it also had a burial or burials associated with it; but far more important is the fact that Brattleby 1 evidently stands in situ and oriented, and close to the centre of the graveyard. The church of St Cuthbert, with an unbuttressed west tower taken to be of eleventh-century date (Pevsner and Harris 1964, 197; Taylor and Taylor 1965, 715), stands to the north with its chancel arch in line with the shaft. A further layer of significance is the boundary generated by this relationship, between the clergy and/or patron to the east and the parishioners to the west.

The iconographic content of the cross-shaft at Edenham (no. 1; Ills. 162–6) may also suggest that, in addition to marking a burial ground, such shafts may have provided a podium and backdrop for sermons. The presence of the evangelist or apostle in the carving implies a preaching function, but as so much of the shaft is missing we cannot say whether or not the iconography of a burial ground cross was also present in the form of a Crucifixion scene. Stoke Rochford 1 (Ills. 346–9) may have had a similar function (that is, both marking a burial ground and providing a focus for activities such as preaching), though originally at the nearby village of North Stoke.

Other pieces with a non-funerary function are the dedicatory inscription at Lincoln St Mary-le-Wigford (no. 6; Ills. 273–5) and the Crucifixion panel, Marton 6 (Ills. 285–6), which might plausibly be thought of as a 'station' forming the focus of liturgy. The possibility that Harmston 1 also fulfilled a liturgical and devotional function, though in form a shaft similar to South Kesteven examples, is suggested both by its iconographic programme of Crucifixion and Ascension or Majesty (Ills. 199, 200), and by the hole in the boss of the ringed head that may belong to it (Harmston 2; Ill. 201). This may, like the late twelfth-century cross at Church Kelloe in co. Durham, have been designed to hold a relic.

Despite these examples, the overwhelming majority of the stone sculpture is funerary in function. The excavation of the church and cemetery of St Mark in Lincoln (Gilmour and Stocker 1986) has given in Lincoln St Mark 18 the only secure example of a pre-Conquest funerary monument in situ in the county (Ill. 263), although see Lincoln Cathedral 1. It also revealed an unexpected number and variety of pre-Conquest funerary monuments. Church excavations elsewhere in the county have produced a more mixed picture, though where the fabric of the building was disassembled discoveries have been notably more plentiful. The remains of only three funerary monuments of later pre-Conquest date were found in the comparably extensive excavation of St Paul-in-the-Bail in Lincoln (Ills. 276–8; Jones and Wacher 1987). One fragment came from excavations on the site of the church and cemetery of St Giles/All Saints at Old Sleaford (Sleaford 2; Ill. 334). Excavation of the early church at Barrow-on-Humber (Boden and Whitwell 1979) and of the whole nave at Rand (Field 1983b) produced no early stone sculpture, and excavation of the interior of Cumberworth church (Green, F. 1993) added nothing to the fragment already known built into the fabric (Ill. 151). Excavation of former aisles at Healing (Bishop 1978), Fotherby and Keelby (Field 1986) and at Mareham-on-the-Hill also produced no early fragments, perhaps less surprisingly in view of the scale and location of the investigations, except when compared with the pattern of discovery and reuse of early material that can be observed in cases of nineteenth-century rebuilding at Lincoln St Mark, Lincoln St Mary-le-Wigford, or Bracebridge, for example. Perhaps most remarkable of all is the total absence of early stone funerary monuments resulting from the large-scale excavation and detailed fabric recording at St Peter's church at Barton-upon-Humber (Rodwell and Rodwell 1981; 1982). Yet this is a church of a distinctive form and manorial associations that might presuppose elite burials. One of the graves lying quite centrally to the excavated pre-church Christian graveyard had evidence for a marker of stone or wood at its west end (Bryant, G. 1994, 116–18). This was also one of those interments that were carefully removed in clearing space for construction of the turriform stone church within that graveyard, in a process that the excavator has suggested reflects the high status of those particular burials (ibid., 116).

Some explanation for the absence of stone funerary sculpture might lie in wooden monuments. Evidence for their existence at least as markers comes from the excavations of the cemetery at St Mark's, Lincoln, and from the skeuomorphic form of the crosses on Lincoln St Mark 17 and 20 (Ills. 256, 411). A more complex explanation may lie in the chronological pattern of aristocratic burial inside churches. Such burial is generally believed to have originated in the Germanic world with kings, their close relatives and the upper nobility, saints and clergy; only from the eighth century did lesser elite groups use churches similarly for this purpose. In England burials in porticus attached to churches are known from the seventh century and it may be that founders and their families expected burial within their churches until the tenth century. However, there is some evidence to suggest that the church authorities were trying to exclude aristocratic lay burial from churches, at least in the tenth and eleventh century, in an effort which was crowned by the judgement of the Legatine Council at Winchester in 1070 (Morris 1989, 292; Rodwell 1981, 146–7). It is at this period in northern and eastern England that there is widespread evidence for marking external burials through ostentatious stone monuments. The stone monument may have been thought inherently suitable for external location in a churchyard, once burial near the altar of the patron's church had become unacceptable. It can be argued, therefore, that the external location of aristocratic burials actually marks a distinct phase, in the tenth or eleventh centuries, which is reflected in the explosion in use of stone monuments.

This observation raises the possibility that there could be a time-lag between the foundation of a graveyard by a lord and his burial there, and the erection of the church within the graveyard – a contingency discussed by Morris (1983, 52–3). Such an uneven chronological development, with a graveyard apparently founded before a church was built, might be reflected in puzzling features discovered during excavation in St Peter's at Barton-upon-Humber (Bryant, G. 1994, 116–18).

Just such a founding monument for a cemetery, as it were in advance of the construction of the church, may be the function of Brattleby 1, with the church in a secondary relationship to it. Though there were problems in satisfactorily assigning burials to reliable phases of development, a quite similar circumstance may also have existed at St Mark's in Lincoln, where the earliest phase of burials from the mid tenth century were clearly stratigraphically earlier than the earliest stone church of the mid eleventh century, lying to their north. These earliest burials were associated in the excavation report with a fragmentary timber structure to their east, but its date and nature was far from conclusively demonstrated and it may not have been a church at all (Gilmour and Stocker 1986, 15–21, periods VIII and IX). One of the burials allotted to period IX – no. 375 – though overlain by other period IX burials, was quite central to the graveyard and believed to have been marked by a stone cross, while a second – no. 374 – was the one below the in situ marker, Lincoln St Mark 18 (Ill. 263). At a more general level, some of the pre-Conquest sculpture such as the Ancaster shaft (Lincoln St Mark 1), the mid-Kesteven cover (Lincoln St Mark 2) and the two Lindsey covers (Lincoln St Mark 3 and 4) should belong to the era before the stone church was built, and it is not impossible that they represent a short phase of later tenth-century burials which predated any church structure on the site.

Graveyards which were founded and marked by sculpture before their churches were built may not have been uncommon, therefore, even though this runs contrary to current understanding and a priori argument (Morris 1989, 153). Nevertheless, as Richard Morris has at the same time pointed out, this is the straightforward chronological relationship between the standing fabric of even the earliest of the county's run-of-the-mill parish churches, like Marton and Holton le Clay, and the funerary sculpture from the same sites (ibid., 154). This sort of pattern has been drawn out in the west and south-west of Britain (e.g. Thomas 1989), and recent scholarly debate more generally has shifted to an emphasis on the essential similarity of patterns of early ecclesiastical provision throughout the country (Blair and Sharpe 1992).

Whether with a church present in a chronologically primary or secondary role, the survival of later Anglo-Scandinavian sculpture at a church site must at least represent a burial ground of the date of the sculpture at that site. Consequently a piece of tenth- or early eleventh-century sculpture in a church fabric is usually the earliest evidence we possess for the existence of a ecclesiastical activity on that site (Morris 1989, 153). Furthermore, the church which was to be built there was intended to be a relatively senior one in the hierarchy of churches, as, by definition, it had both burial rights and patrons of sufficient substance to afford elaborate funerary monuments, often brought from a distance of twenty or more miles.

sculpture as evidence for the developing ecclesiastical pattern

i) Evidence for the pre-Viking Church

The evidence for the early church in the county has been summarised and discussed recently by Stocker (1993), and with a more narrowly-focused orientation on Lincoln by Bassett (1989), Gem (1993b), Jones (1994) and Owen (1994, 1–13). From such studies it is clear that sculpture can play only a relatively minor part in our understanding of the topic. Pre-Viking sculpture dated on stylistic grounds to this period of over two hundred years is known from only four places, that is Caistor, Edenham, Redbourne and South Kyme (Fig. 6). There is additionally the inscription, Unknown Provenance 1, from the episcopal seat of the bishops of Lindsey in the eighth century. Though still a matter of scholarly debate, it is most likely that this seat was at Lincoln itself and that the church in which the inscription was erected formed one element, dedicated to St Peter or SS Peter and Paul, of an episcopal group, probably with a church dedicated to St Mary that emerges as the primary affiliation in the later medieval period, in a manner that is typical of early Christian western Europe (Blair 1992).

Unless Bardney 2 is early, about which its lack of decoration allows no certainty (Ills. 11–14), none of these pieces comes from the documented and renowned early monastery site at Bardney. Similarly, there are only late pieces from the well-documented early monastery at Crowland and nothing at all from Partney, Louth, Barrow, or even (with any certainty) from Lincoln itself, all of which are known as early church locations from direct documentation. The same applies to Stow-by-Threekingham, and to the Kirtons in Holland and Lindsey (Fig. 6). This disparity between the documentary record and the distribution of early sculpture clearly highlights how inadequate the documentary record is for this early period, and may point to the potential for discovery of further pieces.

Despite its quantitative limitations, there is some functional pattern in the pre-Viking material. It comprises: (a) dedicatory architectural inscriptions and sculpture, (b) specialised grave sculpture probably in the form of a displayed monument or shrine, (c) in Edenham 1 a cross of Northumbrian pattern. If not exclusive to ecclesiastical sites of special status, all are characteristic of such sites.

While the context if not the certain location of Bede's verses for Bishop Cyneberht is defined in its wording (Unknown Provenance 1, Appendix C), the historical significance of the fragmentary inscription from Caistor is not easy to assess. The traditional claim that it records the dedication of a church after the victory by Egbert over Wiglaf of Mercia in 827 is an antiquarian fantasy. The interpretation was advanced explicitly in order to relate the stone to a single documented event; one, moreover, which need not even have taken place in Lincolnshire, let alone at Caistor. As the stone is now lost, it is not possible to suggest alternative readings, but it would be remarkable for such an inscription to have so specific a historical reference. Yet the form of the tablet and some of the letter forms, if correctly transcribed (Ills. 79–80), suggest that the panel is an early inscription, which may very well be dedicatory and comparable in that respect with that at Jarrow, for example. Epigraphically at least it is of pre-Viking date on the evidence available. In fact there are other indications that the former Roman town of Caistor was an important early ecclesiastical centre with a nearby secular site of high status at Hundon, which may provide some context for an inscription set within an early church (Foster and Longley 1924, 1/65; Smith, A. 1912; Dudley 1949; Rahtz 1960).

The six fragments of South Kyme 1 (Ills. 339–45) probably derive from a shrine-like casket of the later years of the eighth century (see Chapter 4 and catalogue entry). An ecclesiastical object of this quality and function is most unlikely to be found outside a monastery at this early date, and in itself has been taken as evidence for the presence of a pre-Viking monastery (e.g. Ordnance Survey 1966). As Stocker (1993, 112–13) has argued, the site at South Kyme has other characteristics which give circumstantial support to the supposition that it was an early monastery, but it remains the early sculpture that provides the clearest evidence of its date and significance. For South Kyme 1 appears to be one of a group of stone caskets and shrines produced in eastern Mercia in the eighth and ninth centuries. These are amongst the earliest large-scale stone relic boxes in England. Their date, localised distribution and interconnections of form and decoration (see Chapter 4) raise the possibility that they had a common progenitor in some spectacular local example, perhaps even that of Etheldreda described by Bede.

If the newly-discovered fragment at Redbourne (Ill. 314) is from a monument like Kirkdale 8 in east Yorkshire (Lang 1991, 162–3, ills. 563–7) rather than from a standing cross, it may have a comparable origin in marking an honoured or hallowed body within an early monastic context similar to South Kyme. Redbourne is adjacent to a group of three parishes whose churches are all dedicated to St Hygbald, the seventh-century abbot known to Bede (see Chapter 2). The fact that one of them is Hibaldstow, 'Hygbald's sacred place', has been taken as evidence that the site of Hygbald's monastery is to be found in this area on the western banks of the Ancholme (e.g. Venables 1881, 369–70; id. 1887–8, 322–3; Gelling 1982, 189 n. 1). The resting place of the saint is later named as 'Ceceseg' (Rollason 1978, 89), evidently an island site. The sculpture at Redbourne is further evidence for an early church site hereabouts, but it possibly lay on an island, later known as Hayes, in the eastern end of Redbourne parish in the flood plain of the river Ancholme rather than at Redbourne itself (Stocker 1993, 113–14).

At Edenham, there is a rare conjunction of three items of contemporary pre-Viking sculpture. The fragment from a large standing cross (Edenham 1; Ills. 162–6) sits squarely within the tradition of Northumbrian standing crosses decorated with full-length figures of Christ and the apostles, although it is over a century later in date. It was originally set in a stone base, as its tenoned foot indicates, and stood outside for a very long time, as is clear not only from its weathering but also from a much later addition of carving (Ill. 167). This little inserted figure, perhaps intended to depict St Mary Magdalene with her flask, may be of eleventh- or early twelfth-century date. At that time the cross was presumably still standing in the churchyard, where it was originally erected.

Though a case can be made that crosses stood in place of a church in rare examples like Brattleby (see above), it does not seem to have been so at Edenham, because here one wall of the contemporary church survives, also decorated with sculpture (Edenham 2a–b; Ills. 168–9 and Fig. 17). Of the early churches with which these remains invite comparison (see Chapter 6), Breedon is a known early monastic site (e.g. Dornier 1977b) but there is no such suggestion regarding Barnack or Earls Barton, and there is nothing to indicate that Edenham was the site of an eremitic monastery either. Nor is it in the type of distinctive topographical setting apparently common amongst early monastic foundations (Stocker 1993). It may be that the church was founded no earlier than the earliest evidence from the site, namely the stone sculpture of cross and decorated panels.

As a non-eremitic foundation, but with the building itself and the contemporary cross as evidence of major construction works and for the marking out of a graveyard at the same moment, Edenham is best seen as the central church for a community of priests, i.e. as a head minster. In areas such as the diocese of Worcester where documentation survives much more fully, it seems clear that such minsters were being founded as private family fiefs by the aristocracy at this date, with little or no consultation or co-ordination with episcopal or regular monastic authority (Morris 1989, 125–7; Foot 1992). Edenham may well have been a foundation of this sort. It would probably have been described as an 'old minster' in the tenth-century law codes. Other churches in that category, such as Grantham locally, were typically both the ecclesiastical centre for a large parochia – probably much larger than their parish was at Domesday – and also attached to the centre of a major secular land-holding. Edenham was in just this way the centre of large parish with a number of dependent chapelries by the twelfth century (Owen, D. 1971, 5–7; 1979), whilst the secular pre-eminence of the settlement is indicated by the survival of sokeland at Domesday (Roffe 1977).

ii) Sculpture at tenth- and eleventh-century minster church sites

The location of quite a number of the senior churches of late pre-Conquest date in Lincolnshire can be guessed at, though very few are confirmed by documentation earlier than Domesday (Table 8). All of these churches are likely to have been known as 'minsters' in their day. The term 'minster' has been the subject of much discussion and the problems encountered in assigning a particular status to a church, especially where documentation is lacking, are well understood (e.g. Foot 1992). Even so it is valuable to set our understanding of early church status in Lincolnshire alongside the evidence for early sculpture.

If they survived the perils of the later ninth century, the early enclosed monasteries of the county would no doubt have been called 'minsters' in the tenth century. Tenth- and eleventh-century sculpture occurs at a number of them, including Bardney and Crowland. At Bardney there are problems both in dating the pieces and in evaluating their significance, but the survival of an early eleventh-century cross-head (Bardney 1; Ills. 4–6) as well as the base (Bardney 2; Ills. 11–14) should imply that a church continued to be served here in the period between the destruction of the early monastery by the Vikings and its refoundation in the 1080s. The evidence at Crowland is less helpful; the small grave-cover (Crowland 1; Ill. 143) would apparently confirm that burial was taking place here at the period of the Conquest, that is before the writing of the much-disputed chronicle of the abbey's early history known as the 'Pseudo-Ingulphus' (Roffe 1995); but it is too late in date to confirm the Pseudo-Ingulphus account of the refoundation of the monastery in the mid tenth century.

The survival of these fragments tells little about the status of these churches in the period. Yet they indicate burials of some consequence, thereby establishing that the churches were of senior status, as churches of lower standing did not have burial rights at all. Nevertheless, the items at Bardney in themselves cannot be taken to imply that the burial ground there in the tenth and early eleventh centuries belonged to a monastery of any sort, though clearly that option needs consideration in view of the special circumstances of its refoundation and pattern of landholding (Rogers 1979; Beech 1989; Hart 1992, 240–4).

More than the occurrence of funerary sculpture, elaborately decorated architectural sculpture is a direct indicator of stone churches of some pretension and presumptively senior status by the date of the individual pieces. The roundels at Edenham (Edenham 2a–b), the impost at Hough-on-the-Hill (Hough 1), and the range of in situ decoration at St Peter's church in Barton-upon-Humber confirm the special status of these sites. The important fragment from Hough-on-the-Hill (Ills. 204–8) provides clear evidence for an elaborate building, to which the surviving tower probably relates. Apart from the sculpture, Hough is identified as the site of a senior church both because, like Edenham, it was until recently the focus of a large parish with a number of dependent chapels, and because it was a major soke and estate centre at Domesday. It is potentially an early monastic site, too. Like a number of the known early enclosed monasteries of Lincolnshire, Hough village is set in a topographically defined location on an outlier of the limestone ridge, and in the early twelfth century an Augustinian priory was founded there (Page 1906, 242–3). The same high ground is occupied by a pagan cemetery of fifth- to seventh-century date on Loveden Hill (Fennell 1974, 286), which was probably the source of the whetstone/sceptre, Hough 2 (Ills. 209–14). Dr Rodwell's published opinion is that St Peter's at Barton-upon-Humber originated about the year 1000 (Rodwell and Rodwell 1982; for a summary, see most recently Bryant, G. 1994), but a more precise date as well as status is provided by Gem's suggestion that this was actually a chapel built by Bishop Æthelwold following 971 (1991, 827–8), which accounts for its links with architectural modes further south in the Midlands. Elsewhere, the roods at Barholm (no. 2, Appendix E) and Great Hale (no. 1; Ills. 185–6), and the panel at Marton (no. 6; Ills. 285–6) may be too late in date to carry the implication of senior status.

In other instances, architectural evidence of plan or standing fabric points to a church of special status by the early eleventh century, but without contemporary architectural sculpture and with or without the presence of funerary sculpture. Stow-in-Lindsey and Caistor are two such. Various details of the standing fabric at Wilsford indicate that this was a building of so-called Breamore plan and thus likely to have been of minster status (e.g. Blair 1985). It is possible, too, that the long-and-short quoins at the churches at Cranwell, Digby, Irnham, Ropsley, and Skillington also indicate a Breamore plan and therefore potentially minster status, though in these five cases, as at Caistor, the remainder of the churches have been so greatly rebuilt that certainty on the point is not possible without closer investigation or excavation. The possible shaft fragment from Ropsley (no. 2) and the monuments at Cranwell (nos. 1–3) may be evidence to confirm the early importance of those churches, otherwise indicated not just by their long-and-short quoins but also by their status as soke centres at Domesday.

Castle Bytham, also, was the site of a pre-Conquest collegiate institution (Owen, D. 1971, 8; id. 1979, 36) and this standing may indeed be reflected in its three items of late pre-Conquest and early post-Conquest sculpture (Ills. 88, 439–42, 443–55). In contrast, less than half of the Kirtons and Kirkbys, whose names proclaim a special standing, muster any sculpted fragments, and these represent just one monument each.

There has been some debate about the likely status of churches in post-Viking Lincoln (Hill 1948; Owen, D. 1984b; id. 1994; Gilmour and Stocker 1986; Bassett 1989; Jones 1994), to which the early stone sculpture contributes little. The quantity and variety of material from St Mark reflects only the scale of that investigation. The collection at St Mary-le-Wigford has the appearance of the tip of a similar iceberg; so, too, the material from the Cathedral, though the Barnack cover (Lincoln Cathedral 1; Ill. 230), which would look more at home in Peterborough, points to wider connections. In that the investigations there were similar in scale to those at St Mark, the group of material from St Paul-in-the-Bail is perhaps surprising in its small quantity and the total absence of the standard funerary types of the later tenth century such as Lindsey covers and markers and mid-Kesteven covers. This may reflect a relatively late development of parochial status. The pieces are all petrologically of local provenance. Nevertheless, one of them (Lincoln St Paul 3; Ill. 278) is unparalleled in the county and rare nationally, and a second (Lincoln St Paul 1; Ill. 276) has decoration with far-ranging rather than local analogies. This unusual assemblage may reflect the site's exceptional ecclesiastical background (Steane and Vince 1993; Jones 1994).

In just a few cases it may even be possible to suggest that certain churches had a higher status in the tenth century than was hitherto suspected precisely because of their collections of early sculpture. This may be the case at Creeton, where there is little in the history or location of the settlement to account for the presence of so many major funerary monuments (Ills. 121–42). It may be worth observing that in the later middle ages Creeton was a small parish sandwiched between the two larger ones of Castle Bytham and Edenham, both of which are known centres of early ecclesiastical importance. It may be that its early sculpture derives from its location and that, in the tenth century, the church was somehow associated with one or other of these centres.

Viewed in a more general manner, however, although several of these senior, 'minster' sites have produced sculpture, the tenth- and eleventh-century sculpture of the county is certainly not confined to them. Only 21 of the 64 high-status churches in Table 8 retain early sculpture that would help confirm that status (38%). To set against this figure, of a total of 96 sites in the main catalogue at which pre-Conquest sculpture has been found only 21 are potentially of minster status, that is about 20%. While there might be legitimate debate about the inclusion or exclusion of individual churches in Table 8, it makes clear that pre-Conquest sculpture in Lincolnshire does not seem to be confined only to those churches which we might think, on the strength of other evidence, were of high status.

iii) The foundation of parishes

The most remarkable aspects of the body of stone sculptural material for Lincolnshire are the sheer quantity of monuments dating from the mid tenth century onwards that it represents, many of rather standardised forms, and their incidence at a very large number of locations. If their distribution does not fit any pre-existing hierarchy of minsters and their dependent chapels, as the preceding discussion indicates, it does seem more closely related to the distribution pattern of the later medieval parish churches, each with its own burial ground. There were in the order of 650 parishes in medieval Lincolnshire and of those as many as about 100, or about 15%, have to date been found to retain pre-Conquest sculpture. The list of potential 'minsters' in Table 8 accounts at best for only about half of these items and so it is quite clear that a great many monuments, perhaps some 50%, were being erected at later church sites for which the sculpture is the sole evidence of burial-church status in the pre-Conquest period. These presumably represent parochial foundations.

The excavations at St Mark's in Lincoln (Gilmour and Stocker 1986) revealed the creation of just such a parochial graveyard and church, at just this period and with the evidence of pre-Conquest stone funerary monuments, some of which match the types found more widely in the county. Some perspective is possible on the status of the individuals represented by the full collection of monuments. Because there were such a large number of monuments of relatively low quality, the late tenth- and eleventh-century population there arguably was of a 'middling' status, as perhaps might be expected near the centre of a booming trading settlement (Stocker 1986b, 91). The St Mark's material included only a small number of monuments of good quality, perhaps fewer than half-a-dozen – including parts of a Lindsey cover, a mid-Kesteven cover and a Lindsey marker all known prior to the excavations because they had been built into the Victorian church – compared with the very large number of monuments of lesser quality. This relative rarity of the good-quality monuments may also be typical of the graveyards of rural parishes. It seems indeed to be the case that many parishes have fragments from one or two early monuments of quality and no more, rather as Lincoln St Mark had before excavation; but in these cases, unlike the excavated example at St Mark's, we can have no idea what percentage of the original sample we can see. No rural graveyard in the county has been excavated in a comparable way, involving the dismemberment of the church fabric or its foundations that proved at St Mark's to be the principal source of early fragments. It might reasonably be expected, anyway, that a parish like St Mark's in the commercial heart of the Wigford suburb had its share of more wealthy resident merchants, whereas presumably there were only a small number of individuals in each rural parish with the status and resources to acquire monuments of good quality, in most cases perhaps only the local lord and his family. Although it is impossible to prove, monuments like the mid-Kesteven covers, examples of which occur in 15% of all medieval churches in the Parts of Kesteven, or the Lindsey covers, or the South Kesteven shafts, may well have been the typical memorials to the late tenth-century resident aristocracy. Furthermore, insofar as the sculpture is usually the earliest evidence that we have for such parochial graveyards, it is conceivable that the monuments belong to the parochial church founders themselves and are overt signs of those foundations. This need not have been a synchronous event with uniform effect. Indeed on the one hand it is part of a process that was still active into the twelfth century; on the other if primarily led by local resident lordship, its effect could be expected to be patchy in the same way that later medieval manorial residences were not uniform and ubiquitous in their occurrence within the medieval parish structure. Yet the enormous explosion in numbers of fragments of graveyard monuments that this study documents from the mid tenth century points to a period perhaps of a couple of generations of exceptional rapidity of foundation of ecclesiastical sites and with that the rapid consolidation of the parochial system as it later fully developed.

Graphic evidence that this is the case may be provided by the density of monuments in graveyards in certain regions of the county. An especially good example is the area around Sleaford along either side of the Slea valley and in its hinterland (Fig. 19). Here, some two-thirds of all medieval parishes retain items of tenth- and early eleventh-century sculpture, which must surely be evidence of the provision of a great many parochial graveyards by the date of the sculpture.

A similar point can be made with more limited local examples, especially where sculpture occurs at what might conventionally be thought of as 'junior' settlements, or perhaps better as ancillary members of larger groupings. An example is the Carltons on the Lindsey marshland east of Louth (Fig. 21). The Lindsey cover, Little Carlton 1 (Ill. 279), comes from the 'junior' parish; no sculpture is yet known from the much larger 'senior' neighbour of Great Carlton, but there is from adjacent Manby (Ill. 284), which may have formed part of the same grouping, suggesting that the original unit had been divided by the date of the sculpture. The same is found in the limestone parishes north of Lincoln (Fig. 20). The group comprising Brattleby, Aisthorpe and Thorpe-in-the-Fallows has repeatedly been analysed in terms of Scandinavian settlement breaking up an earlier unit (Morris 1989, 235–8; Everson, Taylor and Dunn 1991, 9), with the thorpes viewed in the simplest terms as subsidiary or intrusive. The pair of mid-Kesteven covers at Aisthorpe (Ills. 1–3, 7–9), and the Ancaster shaft at Brattleby (Ills. 60–4, 66–7) decorated in a manner closely related to the mid-Kesteven covers from the same quarries, and a Lindsey cover in the next parish of Cammeringham (Ills. 81–2), appear to offer the possibility of topographical analysis. On stylistic grounds, the cross-shaft at Brattleby appears to be relatively late in date, but there is nothing about the stones at Aisthorpe to justify a similar assessment, though they are among the most complete of the mid-Kesteven covers, or to make the Cammeringham cover discernibly early. In the absence of any demonstrable chronological priorities, the monuments indicate the presence of Christian graveyards in all three adjacent places, none of them evidently of exceptional standing, by about 1000.

The latter example forms part of the much-remarked 'ladder pattern' of parishes north of Lincoln (Fig. 20). Of the twenty-five parishes which form this group, seven have sculpture of the later tenth or early eleventh century, namely Aisthorpe, Blyborough, Brattleby, Cammeringham, Glentham, Glentworth, Hackthorn, Kirton in Lindsey; one of them is the in situ graveyard cross at Brattleby, which may of itself be evidence for the foundation of that particular graveyard. Pre-Viking sculpture at Redbourne and the place-name and status of Kirton indicate ecclesiastical provision of senior standing within the pattern. Of the other six locations in which the Anglo-Scandinavian sculpture occurs, only Hackthorn 1 has any distinctive characteristics which might lead to the suspicion it was a particularly important site and of earlier creation than the rest. The sculpture from the others is very uniform in type and does not in itself indicate earlier, senior, burial grounds: but the case of Kirton indicates that an undoubtedly senior ecclesiastical site may be marked sculpturally in a run-of-the-mill way, and Glentham (Everson 1993) and Blyborough (Cox 1994) may be other candidates.

However tempting it may be to consider the ladder pattern of parishes to have been laid down at a single moment and that connected to parochial creation, the elongated, strip-like parishes are pre-eminently and as a commonplace, an excellent example of scarpland settlement, with each parish having a share of available resources. It is likely that they are first and foremost social and economic units, whose boundaries also served to demarcate the payment of ecclesiastical dues. Some scholars have wished to entertain a Roman origin for the framework that the ladder pattern represents (e.g. most recently Morris 1989, 237–8). There is certainly some indication that it was formerly made up of large units in the early medieval period, perhaps of a multiple estate type, for example in the grouping indicated by the place-names of Burton-by-Lincoln, where there was a hall recorded in Domesday Book, and the three adjacent Carltons, or in the link between Kirton in Lindsey and Spital in Hemswell (Everson 1993), or even that suggested by the place-names Glentham and Glentworth. General considerations might suggest that the break-up of such estates was promoted by Scandinavian landtaking and English reconquest, by the resulting landmarket, by sub-infeudation, by settlement nucleation and the development of open common field systems, though the interplay of causes and effects is far from clear. The sculptural evidence, particularly in the adjacent run of parishes of Aisthorpe, Brattleby and Cammeringham, shows that the process and local church provision in its wake were well advanced by about 1000 and had had a notable impetus in the previous half century; but it cannot be assumed that the effect was uniform or had an instantaneous contemporaneity. Indeed for all the overall regularity, the size of economic unit and therefore generally the size of parish that developed within the ladder was very varied, which speaks of a piecemeal process subject to diverse local circumstances.

Nevertheless present knowledge must represent only a part of the original distribution of pre-Conquest funerary sculpture within the ladder pattern. The number of parishes where it is known, and the recent quite casual discovery of a new piece like Glentham 1, make it implausible to exclude the possibility of such discoveries at any of the later medieval church sites.

In conclusion, as the later tenth- and early eleventh-century sculpture is so widespread across the county and as it occurs in both known minster churches and in what are otherwise ordinary parish churches, the bulk of fragments must be evidence for parochial and not just minster graveyards. The sculpture is also usually the earliest evidence for the existence of such parochial graveyards. Furthermore, the enormous explosion in numbers of fragments of graveyard monuments from the mid tenth century may, of itself, point to a period when parochial graveyards and therefore parishes were being founded most rapidly, and specifically to lordly influence in that process. In the case of certain blocks of parishes in Lincolnshire, within the Slea valley for example, the sculpture may even help to identify the date at which whole areas of the county were being parochialised.

iv) Colonisation of the margins

In addition to enabling some discussion of the foundation of parishes as a general matter for the greater part of the county, the distribution patterns and individual locations of Lincolnshire sculpture may help in dating the establishment of new settlements in more distinctive areas or on the more marginal ground; in the Fens and on the marshland fringe, for example.

Settlement on the silt ridge of the Lincolnshire Fens has been evidenced by surface finds of mid Saxon pottery (Healey 1979) and its intensification in the later pre-Conquest period has been shown by the results of the Fenland Project (Hall and Coles 1994). Though place-names in –by and –thorpe are notably absent from Holland, a concentration of purely Scandinavian names of other sorts there, as in Axholme and parts of the Lindsey coastal marshlands, reflects the same processes of reclamation and population growth (Fellows-Jensen 1978, 248–57). The presence of sculpture at Bicker (Ills. 41–52), Gosberton (Ill. 175) and Whaplode (Ills. 385–7) indicates well-developed settlements on this silt ridge by the eleventh century, which had churches of high enough status to have burial grounds. Furthermore, there is no reason to think that other settlements documented in Domesday Book within this silt-ridge zone did not already have parochial provision. Presumably the developed form of such settlements must be more or less contemporary with the final consolidation of the Sea Bank, for which a tenth-century date has been proposed (Hall and Coles 1994, 145 ff.), and this would seem to be consistent with the evidence from the sculpture. It may even be that the concentration of monuments at Bicker hints at its special status among these settlements at this date, as a port through which vessels from the hinterland were passing. Bicker is one of the few sites in the whole county which had monuments made of stone from different sources, both Ancaster and Barnack, in its burial ground, and this may suggest a diversity of trading contacts, as it does also at Lincoln. While there is a good collection of tenth- and eleventh-century material from Bicker, there is none at all from Boston, which is generally thought to have replaced Bicker as the main port of access in the region by the end of the eleventh century (Harden 1978, 5–7; Owen, D. 1984a). The absence of pre-Conquest sculpture at Boston when compared with Bicker might be a further indication that Boston was indeed a new foundation in the later eleventh century.

The Elloe Stone (Ills. 171–2, 176–8) has apparently stood beside the causeway across the fen between Moulton and Whaplode parishes since its erection in the later tenth century; it probably also dates the foundation of the wapentake meeting place, which it marks, to that period. It is further evidence that the later pre-Conquest Fenland was not only inhabited with a developed settlement hierarchy, but was subject to the same system of local government as the surrounding areas. Overall, however, and certainly when compared with the remainder of the historic county, the Fenland contains little pre-Conquest stone sculpture at all. This may indicate that here, away from readily accessible sources of stone, burials tended to be marked in other ways. In those circumstances, such stone sculpture as exists may have more than usual significance, yet at the same time be less directly indicative of the wide spread and diversity of the settlement here in the late Saxon period (Hall and Coles 1994).

On the seaward fringe of the Lindsey marshland the later Anglo-Saxon stone sculpture can make an even more positive contribution to settlement studies (Fig. 21). The present picture of the development of settlement here is still essentially that put forward by W. G. Hoskins in 1955 (Hoskins 1955, 64, fig. 7), though discussed and refined since (Rudkin and Owen 1960; Owen, A. 1984). The present coastline, Hoskins argued, was colonised slowly over a period of centuries, through a sequence whereby salting in the earlier Anglo-Saxon period created a foreshore extending a long way east from parent settlements at villages like Tetney, Fulstow, Covenham and Yarborough. Then what were originally temporary settlements with suggestive place-names like North Coates, Marsh Chapel, North and South Somercotes gradually became permanent, a status they may have reached by the end of the eleventh or the early twelfth century. The stone sculpture suggests that this attractive model probably needs revision. Pieces from Conisholme (Ills. 99–101) and Theddlethorpe St Helen (Ills. 370–1), and perhaps even Cumberworth (Ill. 151), are in the allegedly temporary coastal zone of settlement. These places clearly had graveyards or churches of sufficient status to have burial grounds at dates which may be as early as the third quarter of the tenth century. So, if Hoskins's model is valid at all, the dating of that expansion of settlements eastwards as permanent features will have to be rethought. This conclusion is supported by results from recent excavations below Cumberworth parish church, which have suggested that the mound on which that church is sited was occupied by a high-status secular site in the mid Saxon period; the graveyard and church were founded here later, in the Anglo-Scandinavian period (Green, F. 1993; pers. comm.).

Such examples of the use of items of stone sculpture in discussions of the dates of foundation of burial grounds, and thus of settlements of a certain status and substance, are particularly valuable in Lincolnshire, since documentary sources are so scarce. Evidence for the origins of the county's settlement pattern in the medieval period will eventually be gained mostly through excavation, and the sculpture – at present a rather crude and obvious form of artefactual information – will gain value when used more fully and more subtly in conjunction with other forms of evidence.


the anglo-scandinavian period

During the tenth century the Scandinavian settlements originating in land-taking in the 870s introduced an entirely novel group of cultural influences into the history of stone sculpture. In Yorkshire the pattern of stone carving has been used extensively in discussions of the establishment and spread of Anglo-Scandinavian culture, although not without problems (Sawyer 1971; Lang 1989; id. 1991). In Lincolnshire, however, the contribution which the sculptural evidence can make has not yet been realised, in spite of the fact that Anglo-Scandinavian settlement here is well attested and its impact vigorously debated in the spheres of place-name study (early papers conveniently republished in Cameron 1975; also Cameron 1973; Fellows-Jensen 1978) and local administration (Roffe 1990; 1992), as well as in the urban development of Lincoln itself. One reason for this has been a restricted perception of what stone sculpture might be relevant, as being of overtly Scandinavian derivation: this has effectively limited comment to the Crowle cross. A second reason has been a simple lack of ordered information, as supplied here for the first time. The gathering together of stone sculptural products of the Anglo-Scandinavian period and their assessment by type, source and distribution is a major advance, and opens a number of wider historical perspectives.

i) Hiberno-Norse contacts

The cross-shaft, Crowle 1 (Ills. 144–50), remains pre-eminent in any discussion of the county's Anglo-Scandinavian monuments. Its carving is unparalleled in Lincolnshire in style, subject matter and ancillary details (Chapter 4). Taken with the unusual petrology linking it with the city of York (see Chapter 5), it seems that either the stone was carved in York, from a column salvaged from a Roman building there, and shipped to Crowle complete; alternatively, the stone was obtained locally from a former Roman site and carved locally in the style characteristic of the Viking kingdom of York under its Hiberno-Norse conquerors, who ruled from 918-954. Both alternatives point to the conclusion that Crowle 1 was connected with the artistic and commercial networks of York. For the most north-westerly of all the sculpture sites in Lincolnshire, and one of the closest to the waterway route from the North Sea to York itself only some thirty miles up river (Fig. 22), such a close association is no great surprise.

Holton le Clay 1 (Ill. 203) and Thornton Curtis 1 (Ills. 372–3) also point to early tenth-century contacts with the Viking kingdom of York. As part of a York grave-cover, Holton le Clay 1 finds close parallels in those from the excavated graveyard below York Minster (Ill. 478), which Lang sees as virtually mass-produced and believes that, although derived from monuments of Hiberno-Norse type, they represent a mid tenth-century Anglo-Scandinavian development of an original Hiberno-Norse tradition (1991, 39–40). Holton le Clay 1 is an exported outlier of this important Yorkshire group, and the identical petrology of Thornton Curtis 1 makes it highly probable that this is a further fragmentary example from the same production centre. Both may therefore belong to that same period of York influence in northern Lindsey during the second quarter of the tenth century which is evident at Crowle.

The very extensive reuse of Millstone Grit in St Peter's at Barton-upon-Humber should perhaps be ascribed to the same point of origin in York, because gritstone is not known from the other more local major Roman settlements at Winteringham and Brough-on-Humber (Bryant, G. 1994, 119–20). It cannot also be ascribed to the same narrow chronological period before the mid tenth century, however, if Gem's plausible suggestion that the building is actually a chapel erected by Bishop Æthelwold after he secured Chad's ancient monastic estate in 971 is to be accepted (Gem 1991, 827–8). Stylistic assessment of the sculpture (Barton-upon-Humber 1–8; Ills. 17–33) does not require an early rather than later tenth-century date and has identified nothing distinctively Hiberno-Norse. Here, apparently, architectural affinities with the south Midlands may combine with supply of materials from York.

Crowle, Holton le Clay, Thornton Curtis and Barton are significantly located on and near the major waterway network of the Humber estuary inevitably used by the traders from York (Fig. 22). They are very much on the fringes of Lindsey, and even in the later tenth and early eleventh centuries the limestone products of the Lincoln quarries are not yet known to penetrate this area, though the Lindsey covers at Laceby and North Thoresby may suggest use of the harbour at Grimsby in the same way as the York cover at Holton le Clay does.

The relevance of the small fragment, Marton 1 (Ills. 290–1), to the discussion of Hiberno-Norse contacts with the short-lived kingdom of York is somewhat less clear-cut (see Chapter 5). It is of a limestone from the Lincoln quarries that is identical to the stone type of Marton 2 and 3 with which it is reset, rather than of gritstone. If it is from the highly decorated ring of a very large wheel-headed cross, its analogies lie with a group of monuments which are most common in Cumbria and Lancashire and Cheshire. This monument type was first brought across the Pennines by the Hiberno-Norse settlers in the early years of the tenth century, and such neatly produced and finely decorated ring-heads in gritstone (typified by the cross-head from North Frodingham – Lang 1991, 187–9), have a limited distribution in eastern Yorkshire during the second quarter of the tenth century, when Hiberno-Norse influences were at their height in York itself. If Marton 1 was of this latter form, rather than a large circle-head of the type found in the north-western counties, it would indicate significant Hiberno-Norse influence, most plausibly via York within the life-time of the kingdom, on local production. Marton's location, not only on the Trent but near to the point where the Roman road to Doncaster crossed it, raises the possibility that it served as a significant port for the province of Lindsey on the waterway network of the Humber basin.

The stones at Holton le Clay, Thornton Curtis, Crowle and Barton, then, may be taken as evidence for trading contacts with Viking-age Northumbria. They augment the numismatic evidence, which gives an indication of the extent to which the trading influence of the Viking kingdom of York extended southwards (Blackburn, Colyer and Dolley 1983, 13–15). This was not confined to, or indeed concentrated in, Lindsey, however, but spread all over the East Midlands; and when Alfred dealt with the Viking kings it was over the ownership of lands in southern Lincolnshire, not in Lindsey (ibid.). These cultural and economic incursions belonged to the years between 921 and 959, when, despite English successes, a Hiberno-Norse base was retained in York and its influence was felt across the whole of the Danelaw. Evidence for the suggestion that Lindsey may have been considered, more or less, a part of a greater Northumbria lies principally in politically specific matters such as Lincoln's St Martin coinage modelled closely on the pattern of that dedicated to St Peter of York (Stewart 1967; Blackburn, Colyer and Dolley 1983, 9–16) and the interest of the archbishop of York in the province (Whitelock 1959); but the stone monuments, like the general Hiberno-Norse coin-types, are valuable supporting material.

Yet do the stone monuments represent Hiberno-Norse as opposed to Danish settlement in Lindsey? They certainly represent an innovation of ostentatiously-marked secular burial that stands in contrast to the pre-Viking sculptural evidence. Crowle 1 underlines this with its predominantly secular iconography and self-characterisation, through its inscription, as a burial marker (see the catalogue entry). This is familiar from the late ninth- and early tenth-century monuments in the immediate sphere of influence of York, as at Nunburnholme and Middleton (Lang 1991). Yet the inscription is in Anglo-Saxon runes rather than Norse ones, and is in Old English: was it a local addition to an imported monument? Holton le Clay 1 must have marked a principal burial, perhaps the primary burial, in a cemetery which was itself established, perhaps deliberately, on a pre-Viking settlement site (Sills 1982).

Marton 1 should perhaps point to a different sort of influence, since the stone type shows it to be a local product. Yet if Lincoln was politically affiliated to York, as hinted above, it could be the same cultural affinity at one remove. Alternatively it may be related to the grave-cover at St Mark's in Lincoln (Lincoln St Mark 5; Ill. 242), of undoubtedly local production but with north-western or Cumbrian analogies for its crude decoration. The sculptural evidence, embedded by production and use in the local community, tells us something different from the evidence of the eleventh-century bone comb from Lincoln, for example, with its Norse as opposed to Anglo-Saxon runes that point to manufacture in Scandinavia and merely sale or loss in Lincoln (Page 1971, 175; id. 1973, 194).

The variety of evidence and range of interpretation in this evidence has analogies in and perhaps a comparable message to the much-discussed place-name evidence. Indications of distinctively Hiberno-Norse settlement may be found in names like the several Normanbys and Irbys, and perhaps in a thin scatter of specifics, often personal names, of distinctively West Scandinavian or Irish form (Fellows-Jensen 1978, 261–7 and map 10). But by the tenth century formerly culturally distinctive names could have been assimilated to the general name stock and therefore carry no certain cultural message. By the eleventh century, the name Eirtig on Lincoln St Mary-le-Wigford 6 (Ill. 275), probably a Norse name, should be viewed in this light, for example. Nevertheless, monuments such as Crowle 1 and Holton le Clay 1 stand out for their chosen and publicly displayed affirmation of Hiberno-Norse affiliations. They appear to support a more detailed claim than the place-names, namely that these places at least were subject to specifically Hiberno-Norse cultural influences in the second quarter of the tenth century. It may be reasonable to suggest that a burial monument of imported, Hiberno-Norse, character marks not only close cultural contacts between the deceased and the Hiberno-Norsemen, but perhaps actual landtaking and settlement.

Arguably a comparable example of distinctive cultural affiliation at this period, though in that case of a different orientation to the wider Scandinavian world, is evidenced by the closely similar pair of large rectangular covers, one from Hackthorn (no. 1; Ills. 187–9) and the other the lost late eighteenth-century discovery from the Broadgate area of Lincoln (Lincoln City Broadgate 1; Ill. 231). Their Borre-related decoration, albeit as debased versions of an original, high quality design, suggests a date pre-950 (Wilson and Klindt-Jensen 1966; Wilson 1976; 1978); in stone type, on the evidence of Hackthorn 1, they are local Lincoln products. They are the only artefacts from Lincolnshire to show any evidence of influence from the Borre style of Scandinavian art, which is not at all common in Britain. The existence of these covers in the immediate ambit of Lincoln may therefore hint at a particularly close relationship between the city and Scandinavia at the time of its rapid growth as a commercial centre in the North Sea trading world (Perring 1981). A third cover (Lincoln St Mark 6; Ills. 243–4) appears to carry this local Lincoln monument tradition on into the later tenth century in a much simplified form.

Although the question of the impetus and development of Scandinavian settlement is primarily a matter requiring full discussion elsewhere, the stone sculpture is an important component of the evidence. It is presumptively evidence for the activities of a small aristocratic minority, who perhaps had a different tradition of burial marking from the people over whom they held power. As with the place-names, there are only a very small number of these Hiberno-Norse monuments, relative to the great mass of Anglo-Scandinavian material. The question is, therefore, are these indeed the first, seminal, monuments in Lindsey, as our chronology and analogies propose, or are they merely a minority oddity in graveyards which were otherwise full of less distinctive but contemporary memorials? Very little of the great bulk of material which forms the mass of pre-Conquest sculpture in Lincolnshire can be dated before the mid tenth century. Because this small group of Hiberno-Norse material can be dated somewhat earlier by reference to the Yorkshire examples, it probably came first in the Anglo-Scandinavian province of Lindsey and stands at the start of what by the late tenth century had become a strong tradition of stone memorials.

ii) Lindsey in the later tenth and eleventh centuries

By contrast with the period dominated by Hiberno-Norse influences, from the mid tenth century stone funerary sculpture was produced locally in some quantity and widely distributed. In Lindsey in the second half of the tenth century and probably into the early eleventh century as well, this development is typified by the so-called Lindsey grave-covers (see Chapter 5, and Figs. 14, 15). Their distribution pattern only within the province is of very great interest. If these covers were all produced at a single quarry source in Lincoln itself (or even from different beds in the working life of an individual quarry), as their stone type indicates, then, as the city is in the extreme south-western corner of the distribution pattern, there must have been some influence or mechanism producing this pattern or some barrier to transporting these covers to the south and south-west.

A similar distribution pattern evident in the group of nine Lindsey grave-markers (see Chapter 5, and Fig. 16), which apparently have a similar origin for production and are approximately contemporary with the Lindsey covers, tends to reinforce this perception. Unlike the Lindsey covers, however, these markers were imitated beyond the borders of Lindsey itself, both directly and also derivatively in the group of gridded markers (see Chapter 5). The imitations of this type of marker in Kesteven, however, are of very inferior quality. They are much thinner and more crudely incised, and are made from a variety of local south Lincolnshire stone types. No comparable imitation of the Lindsey covers occurs in Kesteven at all. It should be emphasised, nevertheless, that these markers are imitations rather than exports and, though they imply contact, they suggest that there was no outward distribution of the Lindsey markers.

Not only do Lindsey covers have this distribution limited only to Lincoln and Lindsey, they can hardly be said to be Hiberno-Norse in any meaningful way, in contrast to the early outliers of the Viking kingdom of York discussed above. One might further argue that they are not characteristically Anglo-Scandinavian either. In Yorkshire, and in the East Midlands also (see Chapter 5), the typical tenth-century Anglo-Scandinavian grave-cover was the hogback and its derivatives. These Lindsey covers, though contemporary, have little in common in form or decoration with such monuments. So, whilst the sculpture seems to indicate a period of external cultural contacts during the first half of the tenth century, the period when the influence of the Viking kingdom of York was at its height, the stylistic analysis of the Lindsey covers, as well as their distribution pattern, may hint at a period of cultural, and perhaps economic, isolation for Lindsey within the Danelaw in the later part of the tenth century.

The distribution patterns of these groups of later tenth-century monuments, numbering 30 items, exclusively within Lindsey itself, is so marked as to confirm the independent identity of Lindsey, at least in its traditions of graveyard memorial. It offers further evidence to that adduced by Sir Frank Stenton for the geographical definition of the province (Stenton 1970), for the Witham as a major boundary, and perhaps for the separateness of Lindsey as distinct from the territories of the other adjacent members of the Five Boroughs grouping within the Danelaw (below).

Several interpretations of the distribution patterns offer themselves, both positive and negative, and they are unlikely to be exhaustive or mutually exclusive.

One interpretation would point to a historical context for the upsurge of production and dissemination of these monuments in the reconquest of the Danelaw by the English kings, and the revival of the bishopric of Lindsey as part of a deliberate policy to combat the persistent interest of the archbishop of York in the northern fringes of the Canterbury province, which was not finally laid to rest until the early twelfth century (Hill 1948, 79–81; Whitelock 1959; Srawley 1966, 21–2, 24). There is ample evidence both of the administrative impact of the reconquest (Roffe 1992, 39–42) and particularly of the manipulation of ecclesiastical matters to further its ends, whether through the promotion of cults (Ridyard 1988) or in a specific acquisition of the historic estate at Barrow. Though the argument is to a degree circular since it is based on the sculptural evidence, this was the period of remarkable impetus in the creation of local ecclesiastical graveyards. In later centuries there is a well-established tradition of direct ecclesiastical ownership and development of quarries at Lincoln, particularly by the cathedral. Could it be that the Lindsey covers and markers bear witness to the same phenomenon, of their quarry and production source at Lincoln lying directly in the hands of the bishop? This might account in a positive way for the restricted distributions within the diocese of Lindsey, and even suggest that the monuments were deliberately used to promote regularised Christian graveyard burial and the development of a parochial network in its wake. The fact that, insofar as the decoration of the Lindsey covers has any stylistic affiliation it is to tenth-century fashion for repetitive interlace employing figure-of-eight motifs in south central and south-western England (see Chapter 5), might lend weight to this view: the decorative schemes certainly bear no hint of Scandinavian taste, or reference to the Hiberno-Norse styles current in the immediately preceding period. This, too, might be seen as deliberate policy and emblematically significant.

An alternative perspective would underline the political and economic isolation for Lincoln and Lindsey that the distributions of the Lindsey covers and markers imply (Figs. 15, 16). It is certainly quite remarkable that stone sculpture viewed as goods whose primary routes of distribution were without doubt waterway networks should show a distribution that defines those same waterways – the lower Witham, Fossdyke and lower Trent – as barriers. Do the distribution patterns of sculpture suggest that distinctions between the economic and political territories of all of the Five Boroughs were really drawn as sharply as this? Does the sculpture from Kesteven and Holland, the area of 'Stamfordshire' (see Chapter 2), indicate that this territory also was distinct and isolated from the neighbouring Five Borough territories of Leicester and Nottingham? The answer from the sculpture of southern Lincolnshire is decisively no. The mid tenth-century Trent Valley hogbacks and their debased derivatives, the mid-Kesteven covers, have wider distribution patterns, extending beyond 'Stamfordshire' into Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire as well (Figs. 12, 22). From this perspective, therefore, Lindsey was on the one hand influenced by the Hiberno-Norse occupation of York during the first part of the tenth century, but became really quite isolated from its fellow members of the Five Boroughs grouping during the second half. This tentative conclusion might be thought to receive some corroboration in the documentary record of the submission of the people of Northumbria, of Lindsey, and of the Five Boroughs to Swein and Cnut at Gainsborough in 1013 (see Chapter 2). The people of the Five Boroughs were treated significantly as single political unit, the Fifburgingas (as Loyn 1965, 21–3 points out), but Lindsey appears by virtue of its separate submission to be excluded from this grouping at this time. On the face of it, this is a political distinction that might also be inferred from Lincoln and Lindsey's distinctive memorial tradition.

On the other hand, there is no reason otherwise to think of Lincoln and Lindsey as backward; quite the reverse. The late tenth and early eleventh century was precisely the period when the Lincoln mint rose to become the foremost in the country after London, when the city was growing into a major trading centre of the Anglo-Scandinavian world (see Chapter 2), while its suburb and Trentside port of Torksey evidences widespread contacts, too, most obviously through the distribution of its distinctive pottery (Barley 1964; Mainmann 1990). It is clear from the stone sculpture that Lincoln and Lindsey were not isolated in respect of incoming products; through the later tenth century a number of mid-Kesteven covers find their way into Lindsey as well as to Lincoln (see Chapter 5), as do several shafts also of Ancaster origin. If, as hogback derivatives, the covers did retain a cultural connotation that invoked the Scandinavian land-taking, this may represent a choice that recognisably asserted that affiliation. Some hint of an embedded, pro-Scandinavian outlook on the part of the leaders of the province of Lindsey has been read into the limited historical record, including Florence of Worcester's account of the battle between the Mercians and the Danes in 993, the choice of Swein and Cnut in 1013 to enter the country through the Trent and their apparently unopposed landing and provisioning at Gainsborough, and Æthelred's retribution on the men of Lindsey in 1014 (see Chapter 2; Stafford 1985, 124).

As the eleventh century progressed, the stone sculpture in Lincoln itself appears a combination of rather poor-quality local products with few artistic or decorative pretensions and imported items from the south like Lincoln Cathedral 1 (Ill. 230) or Lincoln St Mary-le-Wigford 1 (Ills. 265–6), in a mix that perhaps reflects the cosmopolitan nature of the developed city. Production of the Lindsey cover and marker groups had apparently terminated, though whether coincidentally with the withdrawal of the bishopric to Leicester and then Dorchester is beyond proof. In Lindsey, too, Barnack products were imported to out-of-the-way locations including Mavis Enderby (Ill. 304), Toft next Newton (Ills. 376–8) and Thornton le Moor (Ill. 374). The use of massive Ancaster blocks for the primary quoins of St Mary's church at Stow further illustrates the flow of stone products around the mid century.

iii) Kesteven and its contacts in the tenth and eleventh centuries

In Kesteven the political and cultural history hinted at by the stone sculpture is quite distinct from that of Lindsey. Compared with the early monuments in Lindsey suggesting close contacts with the Viking kingdom of York, in Kesteven there is a small but important group of monuments which suggest that it was part of a larger territory extending to the west. Whereas the Lindsey evidence suggests first a period of close contacts with Northumbria and then a period of cultural isolation within the Danelaw, the Kesteven evidence indicates a more continuous single tradition. Throughout the tenth century, this associates Kesteven with a wider cultural, and perhaps political grouping extending to Nottinghamshire and into Derbyshire.

The Kesteven tradition of monumental sculpture begins with Cranwell 2 (Fig. 25; Ills. 109–20), a member of the Trent Valley hogback group (see Chapter 5). These are an offshoot of the main Anglo-Scandinavian hogback tradition, as Lang identified (1984, 101), with a distribution along and around the Trent valley except for the example at Lythe on the north Yorkshire coast (Fig. 22). Two of them, Cranwell 2 and Shelton no. 1, Nottinghamshire (Ills. 472–4), are made of Ancaster stone, as is the derivative monument Shelton no. 2 (Ills. 479–80). The question remains whether the design originated in those quarries. More probably, mass-production at Ancaster of monuments derived from this design was a later development following the pattern of early examples cut from the local stone in centres of the most intense Anglo-Scandinavian settlement, represented perhaps by the covers at Derby and Lythe (Ills. 475–7).

A date in the central part of the tenth century is probable for the Trent Valley group (see Chapter 5). They belong to the period when the territory of the Five Boroughs was very much the borderland between the Danelaw allies of the English kings and the Hiberno-Norse Viking kingdom of York. They are also approximately contemporary with the handful of York imports into northern Lindsey (see above). Significantly, and on present knowledge quite unlike the York imports, members of this group are found in the territories of at least three of the Five Boroughs, namely Stamford (i.e. Kesteven), Nottingham and Derby.

This hogback group appears to represent a quite distinct, and novel, monumental tradition in this area, when compared either with English Mercia to the south-west or with the southern Danelaw to the south-east; at least, monuments of this type have not been reported from these areas so far. Inasmuch as they are a derivative type of the hogbacks of the north-west and Northumbria, they illustrate the Scandinavian origins of the political elite in this area in the mid tenth century; but equally, they are a quite distinct group from the characteristic hogback monument type. It may even be that some reminiscence of the local eighth- and ninth-century decorated monastic sarcophagi (see above) was intended. These Trent Valley monuments may reinforce the impression of much recent work that, whilst the area covered by the territories of Nottingham, Stamford and Derby was undoubtedly an area of Anglo-Scandinavian settlement and influence, it had an internal cohesion distinguishing it from Anglo-Scandinavian groupings to both north and south (see Chapter 2).

The most compelling reason for distinguishing the monuments at Cranwell, Shelton and Derby from the Northumbrian hogbacks is that they stand at the beginning of an independent tradition of hogback-like monuments in Kesteven, the mid-Kesteven covers (see Chapter 5, and Fig. 9). This group has its own internal development likely to span the later tenth and early eleventh century in date. The distribution pattern of the 47 examples (Fig. 12) makes the point clearly that there was no barrier to their dissemination throughout Kesteven and Holland, in numbers into the territory of Nottingham, and to a lesser extent Derby and Leicester, as well as into Lindsey. The same point is made by the distribution and connections of the South Kesteven shaft group (see Chapter 5, and Fig. 7). Some of its early members, in particular Creeton 1 and Colsterworth 1, have parallels with Derbyshire material and are approximately contemporary with the mid-Kesteven covers.

The distribution of mid-Kesteven covers into Lindsey, with find locations at Aisthorpe, Blyborough, Corringham, Humberston and Toft next Newton as well as at separate graveyards in Lincoln itself, might be felt to pose a problem of interpretation. The approximately contemporary Lindsey covers are restricted to Lincoln and Lindsey and do not pass into Kesteven (see above), even though the quarries at which they were probably produced were within a mile or two of the Kesteven border. Does this observation mean that trade in stone in the second half of the tenth century was able to cross from Kesteven into Lindsey but not to pass the other way? Or simply, as we have suggested, that Ancaster products were pre-eminently desirable, perhaps because of their Anglo-Scandinavian association? One form of explanation has been proposed above, based on a suggested positive impact of the short-lived revival of the bishopric of Lindsey (see above). It might also be the case that the mid-Kesteven group was produced over a longer period than the Lindsey covers and that their prolonged availability in the eleventh century accounts for their occurrence in Lindsey. As a group they do show some evidence of variation, despite their general homogeneity (Fig. 9), that might reflect internal development. But the current study has not generated an extended typology, and the well-preserved examples in Lindsey such as Aisthorpe 1 and 2, Humberston 1 or Lincoln St Mary 2 do not appear other than standard types.

The final integration of Lincolnshire (Kesteven, Holland and Lindsey) into the wider cultural and political landscape of a more unified England in the second and third quarters of the eleventh century is nicely illustrated by the distribution pattern of the Fenland grave-cover types (Fig. 13). Lincolnshire was no longer the originator of grave-cover designs which had a limited local distribution. Instead it was set on the northern edge of a distribution pattern of monuments which either came from the Barnack/Clipsham area or were made locally in direct imitation of monuments from there. Without having quite a national distribution pattern, these monuments do clearly link Lincolnshire into a wider grouping including much of eastern and south-eastern England.

The whole tradition of ubiquitous grave-covers produced in the Barnack area in the eleventh century, which went on for several centuries after the Conquest (Butler 1964), may indeed have had its origins in efforts to make cheap copies of the mid-Kesteven grave-cover. If this is the case, the mid-Kesteven covers, followed by the Fenland covers, will represent the route by which the Anglo-Scandinavian hogback tradition was eventually transformed into the post-Conquest flat grave-cover type.

The South Kesteven crosses, furthermore, may indicate that Lincolnshire, or at least Kesteven, was a conduit through which the Anglo-Scandinavian tradition of erecting stone crosses was passed from the tenth- and eleventh-century monuments of Staffordshire and Derbyshire to the simple grave-markers produced by the Barnack/Clipsham quarries. These quarries were the location of the long tradition of cross production which began with complex, Mercian-derived examples like Creeton 1 and Colsterworth 1 in the third quarter of the tenth century and continued with increasingly debased and simple examples until the Norman Conquest.

Next Back to catalogue index