Volume 5: Lincolnshire
Search Result: Conisholme 01, Lincolnshire

 

Overview
National Grid Reference of Place of Discovery
Present Location
Loose in chancel
Evidence for Discovery
Discovered in 1925 in Conisholme churchyard ‘owing to shrinkage of ground following the very dry summer’ (W[right] 1924–5; notes in church).
Stone Type
Yellowish grey (10YR8/3) weathered to pale grey (10YR 8/1) finely granular limestone or calcite mudstone (0.1 to 0.2mm grain size), with embedded thin-shelled bivalves and cross-sections of nerineid gastropods; a few scattered brownish ooliths or pellets of 0.5 to 1.5mm diameter. Cathedral Beds, Lower Lincolnshire Limestone of Lincoln vicinity, Inferior Oolite Group
Present Condition
Broken. The extant decorated face is only slightly weathered but has later damage in the form of abrasions and incisions.
Church Dedication
St Peter
Description

A (broad): A small fragment from a much larger monument. The single visible face appears to show two arms of a small cross of type A1 which are surrounded by a pattern of interlace. Although almost illegible, the interlace appears to have formed a grid which terminates against the cross. The pattern could be resolved as a symmetrical run to either side of the cross-arm, but the fragment is too damaged for certain reconstruction.

Discussion

The type of stiff-limbed upright Christ is that of the Lincolnshire Crucifixions at Harmston 1 (Ill. 199) and Ropsley 2 (Ill. 322). The very low relief and broad flat surfaces of this piece suggest that it was originally painted and that any details were rendered in that way rather than carved. As an unattended Crucifixion contained within the cross-head, the treatment finds analogies with a concentration of cross-heads handled in this way in north Yorkshire that Bailey has noted (1980b, 152–4). Interlace or other related motifs above Christ's head are found in Crucifixion carvings at Durham (Cathedral 8: Cramp 1984, 71–2, pl. 47, 217), and Finghall, Kirklevington and Sinnington in Yorkshire NR (Collingwood 1927, figs. 124, 129; Wenham et al. 1987, pl. XXXIa). On an eleventh-century example from Brompton the motif is similarly two linked oval loops (Haverfield and Greenwell 1899, 118; Cramp 1965, no. 54). The same motif occurs locally, for example, on the grave-cover Lincoln St Mark 8; also as pattern type iii (Fig. 10) on mid-Kesteven covers at Creeton (no. 7) and Hougham, and on the cross-shaft Creeton 1.

Bosses or pellets as space-fillers within Crucifixion scenes occur also at Kirkdale (Collingwood 1927, fig. 126) and York St Mary Castlegate (Wenham et al. 1987, 160–3, pl. XXXIIa): in the former case they are below the out-stretched arms as at Conisholme, and accordingly less plausible as the sun and moon motifs sometimes suggested (Bailey 1980b, 152). On the eleventh-century funerary tablet from Newent, Gloucestershire, sunken circles are employed (Zarnecki 1953, pl. III). In that case, however, Zarnecki identifies them as skeuomorphs of the pierced holes on a metal or ivory crucifix that might have acted as an iconographic model (ibid., 52–3). The possibility that the bosses at Conisholme similarly represent a memory of the tradition of prominent bosses recalling metal prototypes, as found in the series of Irish high crosses and such pieces as Irton 1, Cumberland (Bailey and Cramp 1988, ill. 359) and North Frodingham 1, Yorkshire ER (Lang 1991, ill. 695) that draw on them, is made less plausible by their slight elevation and their organisation in relation to the cross-head's decoration rather than to its essential form.

The ring-head form clearly makes this an Anglo-Scandinavian piece. Talbot Rice's suggestion of a ninth-century date (Rice 1952, 141–2) and proposed con-nection with earlier figural work in the Peterborough area cannot be sustained, depending as it does on the erroneous assessment of the Christ as 'a fine figure...in high relief'. The parallels cited suggest instead a later rather than early date, in line too with the evidence of other ringed cross-heads in the county, at Colsterworth 2, Harmston 2, and Lincoln St Mark 1. This corresponds with the unpublished opinions of scholars consulted at the time of discovery: both W. G. Collingwood and C. R. Peers independently inclined to an early eleventh-century date (Louth Antiquarian and Naturalists Society, MS letters; cf. Sturman 1992b, 38).

Date
Later tenth or early eleventh century
References
W[right] 1924–5, 153; Clapham 1926, 4, 5; Davies 1926, 10, pl. II; Davies 1926–7, 1–2 and plate; Rice 1952, 141–2; Pevsner and Harris 1964, 220; Coatsworth 1979, I, 131–2, II, 17, pl. 37; Stocker 1986a, 60; Wenham et al. 1987, 163; Coatsworth 1988, 189; Pevsner et al. 1989, 43, 231; Sturman 1992b, 38

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