Volume V | Chapter 9 | Overlap and the Continuing TraditionNext Back to catalogue index
by P. Everson and D. Stocker

Like many counties in eastern England, Lincolnshire retains a great deal of sculptural material dating from the middle and later parts of the eleventh century. This is hardly surprising; everything we know about the county's history at the time of the Conquest suggests that it was an economically successful society, focused on a city which was fast becoming one of the largest in England (see Chapter 2). By Domesday the new king, the new bishop and a number of new lords like Gilbert de Gant held large and valuable estates in the county and this is reflected in a very considerable body of late eleventh- and early twelfth-century sculpture conventionally described as 'overlap' material. It originates both in new buildings and in the graveyard monuments of their builders (Appendices A, E and F).

The tradition of cross production at the Lincolnshire quarries did not disappear following the Norman Conquest either, as it may have done in some other places. There are eight decorated post-Conquest cross-shafts, which continue the Anglo-Scandinavian tradition well into the twelfth century (Appendix G). They divide into two groups; those decorated with paterae and those decorated with acanthus (Fig. 23). Both are undoubtedly Norman motifs, as opposed to Anglo-Scandinavian forms of decoration, but in both cases the layout of the monuments betrays their Anglo-Scandinavian archetypes. This is clearest in Minting 1 (Ills. 460–1), which may date from as late as the third quarter of the twelfth century. The foliage in the acanthus trails here is quite clearly of Anglo-Norman date, and the apparently crossed legs of the Crucifixion may place the monument even later in date than that (Pevsner and Harris 1964, 317). Yet the layout of the design is an exact equivalent of that on the Harmston 1 shaft (Ills. 195, 199), which dates to the end of the pre-Conquest period (Coatsworth 1988, 173, 190); the only substantial difference between the two shafts being that the interlace runs at Harmston are replaced by Romanesque foliage trails at Minting. Digby 1 (Ills. 462–5) displays the same pre-Conquest inspiration. Long thought to belong to the ninth century, its post-Conquest date is securely established by the mouldings on the bases of its angle-rolls. A similar inspiration probably also lies behind the closely similar cross-shaft, Revesby 1 (Ills. 470–1).

The group of shafts and cross-heads decorated with paterae comprises Aunsby 1 (Ills. 434–7), Londonthorpe 1 (Ills. 466–7), Keddington 1 (Ills. 458–9) and Castle Bytham 2 (Ills. 450, 452). The paterae, formed of circles of the same scooped leaves found in the so-called 'Jew's harp' motif, and often arranged around bosses and enlivened with pellets and other geometrical shapes, are of late eleventh- or twelfth-century date and find parallels in the chancel arch at Middle Rasen, St Mary's Guildhall in Lincoln, and Lincoln Cathedral (Stocker 1991, 33–7). No obvious Anglo-Scandinavian inspiration lies behind the layout and detailing on these shafts decorated with forms based on circles, except that the vine-trail on Castle Bytham 2 (Ill. 455) is far more reminiscent of Anglo-Saxon examples than of anything Romanesque. It so resembles the ninth-century trail on face D of Edenham 1 (Ill. 166), less than five miles away, that one wonders if the sculptor had copied that Anglo-Saxon exemplar. The Guthlac Stone (Crowland 2) marks the boundary of the Crowland Abbey island, and employs not sculpture but, like Castle Bytham 2, epigraphy as part of its decoration (Ills. 443–6, 456). Such decorative use of inscriptions was not an exclusively Anglo-Saxon motif, but it was deployed on Crowle 1 (Ill. 145) and it has been argued that such a decorative and iconic use of an inscription occurred at least shortly after the Conquest at St Mary-le-Wigford in Lincoln (Stocker with Everson 1990, 93–4; see St Mary-le-Wigford 6, Ills. 273–5). An inscription also forms the decoration of the sundial, Stow 6 (Ill. 358).

There are other standing crosses of the post-Conquest period nationally (for example the Barnack/Clipsham group of late crosses in the East Midlands, at Fletton, Ketton, Sproxton and Stanground), so the singularity of the group in Lincolnshire should not be over-stressed. It nevertheless seems to represent something of a concentration, and several are close in appearance to their Anglo-Scandinavian predecessors. Given this, we can perhaps suggest the earlier stone-working traditions in this county were less easily erased by the Conquest than elsewhere. Most of these shafts are of Ancaster stone, although the fact that Castle Bytham 2 and Minting 1 are cut in more local stone types suggests that continued production of such traditional monuments was not exclusive to the Ancaster quarries.

Nationally a few post-Conquest crosses are thought to mark individual burials, for example at Thrybergh in south Yorkshire (Collingwood 1915, 249) and Fletton, but most appear to mark either graveyards as a whole or locations of other types. Its inscription may suggest that Castle Bytham 2, for example, was a boundary marker of this type. Viewed as a group, however, the generally small size of the Lincolnshire examples adds to their numbers and decoration to suggest that the Anglo-Scandinavian tradition of marking burials with standing crosses continued well into the post-Conquest period. There may be symbolic significance in such choices, whether in copying an Anglo-Saxon shaft in the Norman idiom or just marking a grave with a standing shaft rather than a grave-cover or an upright marker. In a world of visual symbols, such gestures recognising an Anglo-Saxon past no doubt carried meaning.

The Cambridge Castle burial ground, sealed when the new castle mound covered it in 1068, contained shafts, rectangular markers and grave-covers (Ill. 486; Kerrich 1814), but the covers were in the majority. This balance reflected a trend. Although many so-called shouldered markers were produced following the Conquest (cf. Appendix F), the majority of sepulchral monuments in the later eleventh and twelfth century were grave-covers. Furthermore, they became completely dominant by the thirteenth century, when any form of standing monument, as elsewhere in the East Midlands, is extremely rare (Butler 1957; 1964).

The typical grave-cover of the mid eleventh century – a flat rectangular slab with a cross of type A1 sometimes embellished with interlace or other details but often plain (see Chapter 5) – was not replaced at the Conquest. At St Mark's in Lincoln covers of this sort could only be said probably to date before the early twelfth century (Stocker 1986a). They were superseded gradually by flat or coped monuments, often decorated with a cross pattée, that are listed in Appendix F. These are indistinguishable from the covers from Cambridge Castle, except that none has interlace. The distinction between generally pre- and post-Conquest covers, therefore, is not that they have different cross types, but that post-Conquest monuments lack interlace. Cross type B6 is also found both before and after the Conquest, sometimes actually in conjunction with a cross pattée, as on Bracebridge 2 (Ill. 401). Furthermore, covers with cross pattée decoration were produced in the later eleventh and twelfth century in local stone types – 'Clipsham/Barnack', 'Ancaster' and '?Lincoln' – as were the earlier Fenland and Fenland-related groups of covers (see Chapter 5). Apparently, as with the shaft tradition, only certain decorative details changed, the presence or absence of interlace on grave-covers paralleling the change from interlace to acanthus motifs on the shafts, with the further possibility that interlace itself became particularly associated with the old regime.

The picture may be more complex; possibly the monuments reveal not only some continuity but also some attempt at revival following a gap in time. This may apply to cross-shafts like Minting 1 and Castle Bytham 2, with their appearance of close replication of Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Scandinavian types. If a revival, these cross-shafts would be paralleled by a group of five later Romanesque grave-covers, including examples from St Botolph's, St Mark's, and the cathedral in Lincoln (Stocker 1988), which might bear a similar interpretation. As substantial chest-like monuments decorated on both sides and lid with interlocking circles, which produced some approximation to interlace, they may deliberately follow the pre-Conquest fashion for highly decorated chest-like monuments set by Anglo-Scandinavian groups like the mid-Kesteven covers (see Chapter 5).

In conclusion, it seems that the stone industry in Lincolnshire was not greatly affected by the Norman Conquest. It had produced stone for buildings, as evidenced by the dozen or so structures still standing and in the excavated evidence for a number more (Stocker 1986b, 85–7). The so-called 'Anglo-Saxon' towers (see Chapter 6, and Stocker and Everson forthcoming) are amongst the earliest manifestations of an expansion of stone quarrying which followed the Conquest. With stone funerary sculpture, some monumental forms and decorative motifs continued in use across that cultural divide, whilst others may have disappeared. The same quarry centres that had been producing stone monuments for over a century changed some of their design details, probably over a period of time, but continued in operation. There is no reason in the Lincolnshire evidence, therefore, to quarrel with Jope's assessment that: 'It says much for the advanced state of the Saxon stone industry that the greatly increased demands for stone of high quality [in the Anglo-Norman period] could have been supplied ... from the quarry areas already in operation' (1964, 94).