St Kyneburgha, Castor, Soke of Peterborough

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Feature Sets (3)


St Kyneburgha's is described by Pevsner as the most important Norman parish church in the county (i.e. Huntingdonshire). An aisleless cruciform church was built in the early 12thc. and dedicated in 1124. In the 1220s a S aisle was added and the chancel replaced; in the 1260s the S transept was replaced by a large chapel with an E aisle; and early in the 14thc. a N aisle was added. A broach spire was added to the tower around 1350, and the nave clerestoreys were inserted in the mid-15thc. The tower is of ashlar, the rest of the church of stone rubble.

Romanesque sculpture is found in the crossing arches and the exterior of the tower, in the W window of the nave, the reset S nave doorway, a tympanum reset over the S porch entrance, the dedication lunette set above the S priest's doorway and a pair of corbels set in the S porch. Part of a relief showing figures under arcading, now set in the N aisle, is discussed below but probably belongs to the 9thc.

The tower has two elaborately decorated storeys above a plain plinth storey, each of the three storeys being topped by a corbel table supporting a decorated frieze. The upper storey has five double units of blind arcading on each face, the three central units covering bell-openings. The area above the arches is diapered with fish-scale. The lower storey on each face has a central double arched window, flanked by a double unit of blind arcading to either side. Again the area above the arches is diapered, this time to give the effect of opus reticulatum. At each angle of each of the upper storeys is a nook-shaft.


The dedication to St Kyneburgha (Kyneburga, Cyneburga, Cyneburh) is unique in England. She was a daughter of King Penda of Mercia who founded the double monastery of Dormundescastre some time after the death of her husband Alhfrith around 664. A confirmation of the grant of lands to Peterborough (Medeshamstede) by Wulfhere, king of Mercia, in the same year includes Castor, but this is generally thought to be a post-Conquest forgery. In 1086 the manor was held by Peterborough Abbey, although remarkably there is no mention of a church.


Exterior Features


S nave doorway

Round headed, three orders under porch. Reset.

1st order: a 13thc. addition with plain chamfered jambs and arch, and impost blocks chamfered on the angle consisting of a cavetto below a vertical face which has a rolled upper edge, a slightly overhanging lower edge, and a row of beading on the face.

2nd order: 12thc. En-delit nook shafts on bases with a roll below a hollow chamfer, and a roll necking above. Block capitals with roll neckings and hollow chamfered imposts with a groove on the face and a roll at the bottom of the chamfer. In the arch is an angle roll.

W capital: on the lower angle, at the necking, is a three-cusped leaf with a beaded border. From this rise two beaded stems, one in the centre of each face. Each branches at the top, terminating in a pair of volutes. Crossing the two stems as they rise are two more beaded stems, which meander more-or-less horizontally across the faces of the capital.

E capital: on the lower angle, at the necking, is a three-cusped leaf with a grooved border. From this rise five stems. The axial stem is beaded and terminates at the abacus in a pair of leaves with a flower between. The remaining, grooved stems form the vertical warp of a basketwork design whose weft is provided by other grooved stems carved in loops from the necking. The outermost vertical stems terminate in leaves.

3rd order: 12thc. En-delit nook shafts on bases with a roll below a chamfer decorated with sawtooth, and a roll necking above. The bock capitals have neckings and imposts which follow the pattern of the 2nd order. The arch has an angle roll, and outside it a syncopated double-row of billet, and a chamfered label decorated with nailhead.

W capital: crude angle mask with irregular, almond-shaped eyes and leaf-shaped ears. Below the nose is a short horizontal fillet, and from this a pair of horizontal palmettes fan out to cover the faces of the capital. Below the fillet, an oval mouth with projecting tongue.

E capital: angle mask with almond-shaped eyes and human ears. Two stems issue from the nostrils, branching many times to form a pattern of curled stems on either face. Below the nostrils on the angle is a broad projecting tongue.

h of opening 3.13 m (ignoring later step)
w of opening 1.15 m


Nave W window

Round headed, two orders.

1st order: splayed with an angle roll.

2nd order: en-delit nook-shafts on roll/hollow bases supporting cushion capitals with square abaci and no separate imposts. In the arch is an angle roll. There is no label.

Tower, lower decorated storey, E window

Round headed, three orders.

1st order, with round-headed double opening. The jambs are plain and square with chamfered imposts with a deep groove at the bottom of the face. In each arch, lateral face chevron, a single chevron roll on the angle with serrated edge. The central support is a paired half-shaft respond with heavy roll bases decorated with sawtooth, and a double cushion capital. The impost is identical to those on the jambs. Above the arches the lunette is filled with irregular ashlar blocks.

2nd order: en-delit nook-shafts with heavy roll bases decorated with sawtooth, and cushion capitals. The imposts are identical to those of the 1st order. In the arch is a plain angle roll. 3rd order: continuous and decorated on the face with a triple row of billet. The label is double chamfered with a row of lozenges on the flat face and another on the inner chamfer.

Tower, lower decorated storey, N window

As (i).

Tower, lower decorated storey, S window

As (i).

Tower, lower decorated storey, W window

As (i).

Exterior Decoration

String courses

Sawtooth string course, tower all faces, above top storey corbels.

A single row of sawtooth on a flat band.

Triple billet string course, tower all faces, top of lower decorated storey, above corbels

As (i).

Triple billet string course, tower all faces, top of plinth storey, above lowest corbels

A worn string course, legible in places as a flat band carved with three rows of syncopated billet.


Tower, lower decorated storey, E face, two bays

To either side of the window described at III. 2. (i) above is a single-order blind arch, subdivided into a pair of arches by a central shaft. The nook-shafts to either side, and the central shaft are all en-delit, on bases with a roll below a chamfer decorated with sawtooth. Capitals are cushions with square abaci and no imposts. The paired arches and the lunette above are plain, and the enclosing arch is decorated with a double row of billet. The label is continuous with the label of the central window, and is effectively another string course running right around the tower and curving over windows and blind arches.

Tower, lower decorated storey, N face, two bays

Tower, lower decorated storey, S face, two bays.

As (i).

Tower, lower decorated storey, W face, two bays

As (i).

Tower, upper storey, E face, five bays

As (i), the central shafts of bays 1 and 5 decorated with spirals, alternately roll and hollow.

Tower, upper storey, N face, five bays

As (i), the central shafts of bays 1 and 5 decorated with single roll spirals. Capitals are all either cushions or worn beyond recognition.

Tower, upper storey, S face, five bays

As (i). The central shaft of bay 1 is decorated with spirals, alternately broad and narrow rolls. Those of bays 2, 4 and 5 with directional chevron, 2 and 4 alternating roll and hollow sections, and 5 with a series of rolls. Capitals are all either cushions or worn beyond recognition except for bay 2, E nook-shaft - a block capital with foliage decoration; bay 4, central shaft - a volute capital.

Tower, upper storey, W face, five bays

As (i), the 3 central bays covering bell-openings. The central shafts of bays 1 and 5 decorated with single roll spirals. Capitals are all either cushions or worn beyond recognition except for bay 4, S nook-shaft - volute; bay 4, N nook-shaft and bay 5, S nook-shaft - both volute capitals with foliage stems on the faces.

Corbel tables, corbels

Corbels reset as gargoyles in S nave wall

1. Towards W end: beast head with wide open mouth (now housing drainpipe), oval eyes with drilled pupils, round ears and short nose with drilled nostrils.

2. E of S porch: similar to 1, but nose lost.

S porch, E wall (reset corbel)

A doglike head with large pointed ears, bulging undrilled eyes and reeding running down the sides of the snout.

S porch, W wall (reset corbel)

A catlike head, heart-shaped with large pointed ears, bulging eyes with drilled pupils, and human hands to either side of the mouth.

S transept, W wall. Reset corbel table of seven corbels

1. Largely hidden below roof.

2. Horse-like head.

3. Badly eroded double head.

4. Composite human head with open mouth.

5. Human head with tragic mouth.

6. Short horse-like head with bridle.

7. Billet quincunx.

Tower E face, top of lower decorated storey

Thirteen corbels. All are badly worn.

1. Doglike beast head with open mouth.

2. Beast head with round, open mouth.

3. Single roll.

4. Beast head with square open mouth and projecting bilobed tongue.

5. Human head with long, upward-curving moustache and small open mouth.

6. Beast head with oval open mouth and projecting tongue.

7. Clasped roll.

8. Very worn beast head with human ears at sides.

9. Worn beast head (?).

10. Worn, geometrical (?)

11-13. Too worn to describe.

Tower E face, top of plinth storey

Only the six southern corbels and the three northern ones are visible from below. All are badly worn and appear to depict beast heads. The best preserved is the 2nd from the N end, which shows a head with open mouth and projecting tongue.

Tower E face, top of upper decorated storey

Eleven corbels. All are badly worn.

1. Grotesque human head (?)

2. Too worn to describe.

3. Composite human / cat head.

4. Beast (?), too worn to describe.

5. Beast head with tragic mouth.

6. Too worn to describe.

7. Grotesque human head with hands to mouth.

8. Grotesque human head with wide open mouth.

9. Fishlike human head with O-shaped mouth.

10. Human head.

11. Beast head with cat ears and big open oval mouth showing rolled tongue.

Tower N face, top of lower decorated storey

Fourteen corbels. All are badly worn.

1-4. Worn beast heads.

5. Exhibitionist (?)

6. Geometrical - triple reeded.

7. Head with wide mouth (?)

8. Grotesque human head with open mouth and upward-curving moustache.

9. Geometrical with four steps narrowing to the bottom.

10-12. Badly worn.

13-14. A pair, 14 possibly a horse's head with bridle.

Tower N face, top of plinth storey

Fourteen corbels originally, no. 8 missing and no. 9 almost worn away. All are badly worn and appear to depict beast heads except no.6, apparently quincunx billet type.

Tower N face, top of upper decorated storey

Eleven corbels. All are badly worn.

1. Too worn to distinguish.

2. Two human heads.

3. Doglike head.

4. Single roll in hollow.

5. Composite human / cat head.

6. Ram's head.

7. Quincunx.

8. Human head.

9. Too worn to distinguish.

10. Grotesque human head.

11. Human head.

Tower S face, top of lower decorated storey

Fourteen corbels. All are badly worn.

1-2. Too worn to describe, probably heads.

3. Grotesque human head with oval open mouth, drooping moustache, pointed nose and bulging eyes.

4. Damaged; T-shape or beast head.

5. Damaged; beast head or roll.

6. Broken off at bottom.

7. Small, worn catlike beast head.

8. Worn; possibly a double beast head.

9. Hippo-like head with broad open mouth.

10. Damaged; possibly a quincunx.

11. Snake-like head with mouth open showing tongue.

12-14. Too worn to describe.

Tower S face, top of plinth storey

Fifteen corbels. All are badly worn.

1. Worn double-head corbel on the angle.

2 - 5. Badly worn heads.

6. Roll in cavetto with vertical strap.

7. Badly worn head.

8. Broken off.

9. Raised saltire motif on face.

10. Worn head.

11. Double frustum.

12. Worn beast head.

13. Worn beast head.

14. Worn, appears to show a double ball at the top and a Staffordshire knot below.

15. Worn beast head.

Tower S face, top of upper decorated storey

Eleven corbels. All are badly worn.

1. Grotesque beast head with huge curving tusks.

2. Badly worn beast head with tragic mouth.

3. Worn human or cat head.

4. Hippo-like beast head.

5. Human head with curved hornes (?) at sides.

6. Worn beast head with wide open mouth.

7. Horse-like head.

8. Worn beast head.

9. Grotesque human head with moustache curving upwards and big oval mouth.

10. Human head with drooping moustache, small oval mouth and high cheekbones.

11. Worn triangular beast head.

Tower W face, top of lower decorated storey

Fourteen corbels. All are badly worn.

1 and 2. A pair of adjacent beast head corbels.

3. Too worn to describe.

4. Beast head with oval mouth.

5. Too worn to describe.

6. Beast head with double snout (?)

7. Small mouselike head at top, saltire below. A bat (?)

8. Too worn to describe.

9. Worn head with ram's horns.

10. Human head.

11. Worn beast head with projecting brows linked to nose.

12. Too worn to describe.

13. Too worn to describe.

14. Sheeplike head.

Tower W face, top of plinth storey

Fifteen corbels. All are badly worn and appear to depict beast heads, except no. 7, with a volute motif.

Tower W face, top of upper decorated storey

Eleven corbels. All are badly worn.

1. Human head with moustache curving upwards.

2. Beast head with cat ears, broad snout and oval mouth.

3. Sad human head.

4. Snake head with wide-open mouth.

5. Too worn to distinguish.

6. Small worn beast head facing downwards.

7. Long, lugubrious human head.

8. Composite human head with snake-like mouth.

9. Bizarre beast head with cat ears, tusks curving from mouth, projecting cheeks and bulging eyes.

10. Human head with moustache angling down from bottom of nose.

11. Pig's head (?)


Dedication lunette

Set in chancel, S wall over a blocked opening above the priest's doorway. The trefoil head of the opening takes a semicircular bite out of the lower edge of the lunette. This must be original, since the inscription takes account of the opening. The stone is semicircular and bears an inscription in raised capitals: XV KL. / MAI DEDICA / TIO.HUIUS ECLE / AD MC. To this has been added, scratched into a field at the end left raised for carving, the completion of the date, legible as either XIIII or XXIIII. The complete inscription may be translated, This church was dedicated on 15 Kal. May 1124 (or 1114). The lunette is protected by a chamfered label.

Tower angle shafts (eight)

Each of the two decorated storeys of the tower has an en-delit nook-shaft at each angle. The shafts stand on roll /chamfer bases with sawtooth decoration on the chamfer, and capitals are plain cushions with roll neckings and square abaci. These support continuations of the labels which surmount the arcading at each level.

Tympanum set in S porch, S gable

Apparently a single stone of stilted semicircular form with a recessed central field containing a half-length figure of Christ in relief, surrounded by a curved border of repeated double-scroll motifs, with a lower border of guilloche. Christ is shown frontally with a simple halo. He has long hair and a beard. His R hand is raised in a two-fingered gesture of benediction, and his L hand holds the top edge of a book. His drapery is suggested by inscribed lines, and he appears to be emerging from a cloud. To L and R of his head are raised discs, both with drilled centres and a pattern of radiating lines.

Interior Features


Tower/Transept arches

Crossing arches

Each of the four crossing arches is round-headed with two orders to either face, the 1st order being shared between the two faces. The main differences between the four arches are in the carving of capitals and bases.

E crossing arch

As W arch, but bases, where original, are roll/hollow without sawtooth.

1st order, N capital: the impost block is a replacement. The capital shows a boar-hunt in progress. The boar, tusked and bristle-backed, is driven to the L by a pack of dogs behind it (on the E face) towards a standing man on the W face who points his spear at it. The boar has already torn one of the dogs in half - the front part is below its head and the back half above it. There is a mortar repair on the boar's back.

1st order, S capital. The capital depicts a fight between a winged dragon (on the R) and a maned lion (on the L), who face each other across the main face of the capital. In the centre of this face rises a fluted leaf motif.

2nd order, E face, N capital: a man (David, Samson?) forcing open the jaws of a lion. The man stands to L, the lion to R. The background is unarticulated and there is no ground line, so the figures appear to float.

2nd order, E face, S capital: foliage with flat stems. The design grows out of a five-lobed motif on the necking at the angle. Main stems rise to the L, curving across the face and terminating in hooks; and the R, terminating in a trilobed leaf. Subsidiary stems to either side are short fans with hook-shaped spiral ends.

2nd order, W face, N capital: the capital and impost block are replacements. A large ungulate to the R, browses on a simplified tree in the form of a palmette rising from the L necking. The background is unarticulated and there is no ground line, so the animal appears to float.

2nd order, W face, S capital: a cluster of stems and leaves rises from a trilobed leaf at the necking, forming a fan to the R with hooked terminals, and a trefoil leaf to the L. Above this foliage, a dragon on the L face confronts a lion on the R.

N crossing arch

As W arch, but bases, where original, are roll/hollow without sawtooth.

1st order, W capital: seven fluted stems fan out from a multi-lobed leaf in the lower centre of the main face, curving over all three faces in an approximately symmetrical design, and terminating in multilobed leaves, or hooked spirals, or composite fruits.

1st order, E capital: on the N and S faces are a pair of confronted, winged dragons with clawed feet, shown in profile. Their tails curve across the main face of the capital, decorated at first with fishscales, then with beading, and on the main face they interlace in an untidy and asymmetrical knot. The N face is largely concealed by the organ.

2nd order, N face, W capital. Largely concealed by the organ. A quadruped walking to L, with a stylised tree with fluted leaves behind it.

2nd order, N face, E capital. Largely concealed by the organ. A bearded man in a short tunic faces L and bends to cut a stem of foliage with a sickle.

2nd order, S face, W capital: basically a large palmette rising from a five-lobed leaf on the lower angle, with furled leaves with fluted lobes curling to L and R.

2nd order, S face, E capital: the capital, its impost and the nook shaft are replacements. The capital shows a man standing, facing R on its W face holding the jaws a quadruped with horns on its head, open mouth and pointed teeth, which rises up to confront him.

S crossing arch

As W arch, but bases, where original, are roll/hollow without sawtooth.

1st order, E capital: the surface of the capital is covered with an untidy, loose thicket of vine, with plain long stems with arrowhead terminals, long fluted leaves and bunches of grapes. In the centre of the main face a grape-picker walks R through the tangled foliage carrying a basket with grapes in his R hand while plucking a bunch with his L. He wears a short belted tunic.

1st order, W capital: to the L of the main face are a pair of fighting warriors with Norman shields with central bosses on their L hands and maces in their R. They wear short belted tunics. Behind the L warrior, on the L face of the capital stands a woman, facing front, her body turned towards the battle. She has long hair flowing to the L, her dress is long with a pleated skirt and wide sleeves. She raises both hands; the L to her face and the R palm out in a gesture of horrified concern. The R angle of the main face is occupied by a large, non-projecting volute rising from a trilobed leaf on the necking. The woman has sometimes been identified as the foundress, St Kyneburgha, but no convincing explanation has been found for the narrative as a whole.

2nd order, S face, E capital: carved with a single, wingless dragon with an S-shaped body; the head to the R, looking back. It has long straight legs with claws, and 2 foliage stems issue from the tail, terminating in pairs of hooks.

2nd order, S face, W capital: from a multilobed leaf at the necking rise a row of long straight stems with pellets, perhaps representing flowers, at their heads. This is alongside the woman on the fighting warriors capital, and it has been suggested that it represents the carpet of flowers that grew from the contents of a basket that Kyneburgha dropped in another episode from her legend.

2nd order, N face, E capital: a combat between a lion (shown passant on the R face), and a dragon rearing up on the L face. The dragon has a crest, claws and a knotted tail. (cf E crossing arch, 1st order S capital).

2nd order, N face, W capital: foliage. Based on a stem rising from low on the L edge of the L face of the capital which runs diagonally across the surface. At the angle is a clasp and from this emerges a fan of shoots, each ending in a spiral. Further long snaking stems with spiral tips branch from the main shoot and meander over the surface.

W crossing arch, round-headed, two orders to E and W

1st order (shared): half-column responds with roll and chamfer bases with sawtooth on the chamfer. Block capitals are described below, and have cable neckings and chamfered imposts with a roll at the bottom of the chamfer and a deep groove low down on the face. In the arch is a fat soffit roll flanked by slender cavettos.

2nd order (E and W): treatment of the E and W faces is identical, with coursed, attached nook-shafts of bases like those of the 1st order, block capitals with cable neckings and imposts continuous with those of the 1st order. In the arches to E and W are fat nook rolls.

1st order N capital: lion mask in low relief at the top centre of the main face is at the centre of an approximately symmetrical scheme. A beaded stem issues from each corner of the mouth, and these form a design which curves jerkily around the side faces, branching once at a clasp,the side shoot intersecting with the main stem. The main stem and side-shoot each terminate in a trilobed leaf with scalloped edge.

1st order S capital: a block capital with small projecting volutes at the angles. The foliage design rises from a row of five lobes on the necking at the centre of the main face, and consists of a fan of fluted stems of irregular length which terminate in hook-like spirals.

2nd order W face, N capital: a combat between a small bird, on the R face, and a serpent on the L. The serpent's body is long and forms two Staffordshire knots, one near the tail and the other just below the neck. The head faces R, towards the bird, and the mouth is open with tongue projecting. The bird is in flight towards the serpent, its long beak pecking at the serpent's eye.

2nd order W face, S capital: on the angle an untidy fan of fluted stems with hooked terminals rises from a trilobed leaf on the necking. At the top centre is a pine-cone-like fruit, and to either side of this a pair of confronted birds peck at it.

2nd order E face, N capital: on the angle, in the centre is a composite human mask with catlike ears and a small vertical beard below its wide mouth. From each corner of the mouth issues a fluted stem, and these stem curve over the side faces, branching and terminating in hooked spirals.

2nd order E face, S capital: largely hidden by a mirror placed for the convenience of the reader at the desk below it, but appears to be entirely foliage-decorated with fluted stems terminating in scallop-edged fans.

Interior Decoration


Corbel reset in tower

In the 1st storey of the tower, in the chamber at the top of the stairs, adjacent to the ringing chamber is a worn corbel depicting a pair of elongated human or animal heads.

Relief of standing saints under arcading

The slab is rectangular with a loss to the upper R corner. It depicts one bay of a round-headed arcade, and the start of a 2nd bay to the R. Shafts are slender with an axial groove; capitals bulbous with roll necking; bases are large bulbous mounds with a double roll necking. The slender roll arches emerge from the capitals as stems from a branch of foliage, and between the two arches springing from the one complete capital is a vertical stem that bifurcates towards the top and terminates in a pair of leaves.

Under the complete arch is a standing, haloed figure facing three-quarters R. He is bearded and barefoot and carries a closed book with a design of interlace on the binding in his L hand. His R arm is held across his chest with his long fingers straight. His hair is curly and shoulder length, and his pupils are drilled. He wears two layers of clothes with a maniple over the L hand, hanging down on either side. The drapery is articulated in parallel fluted folds. The lower hem is wavy at the front, and the straight back hem is visible below the front hem. The cloth falls in a narrow triangle between the legs. The feet point to the R and slightly downwards. In the R arch, the L edge of a similar haloed figure is visible.

h of block 0.50 m
w of block 0.29 m


The dedication lunette (III. 3. d. ii) has usually been assumed to provide a date of 1124 for the completion of the church, but it does nothing of the kind for three reasons. First the date it gives is for the dedication of the church and nothing else. Second, by the mismatch between the careful relief carving of the characters as far as MC, and the sketchy inscribing of the remainder it appears to supply a rather earlier date (1100-1109) for its own production. The inscribed part of the dedication could have been added at any time after 1124, and was presumably not done until the slab was in place, otherwise greater care would have been taken with it. Finally, Rigold (1977, 103) following Ruprich-Robert argued that the date was not 1124 but 1114 on the basis of the epigraphy. The inscribed XX is in fact a single X with two cross-slashes (see plate). In this Rigold is followed by Fernie (2000).

The glory of Castor is the magnificent suite of figure and foliage capitals on the crossing arches, here dated c. 1100-1110. The capitals are simple blocks or, rarely, volute types. Figures are dynamic and stand out against their flat grounds. The forms of the dragons in particular (e.g on S tower arch, S face, 2nd order E capital) still retain elements of the Ringerike style prevalent in the reign of Cnut. The shields of the warriors (S tower arch, 1st order W capital) are of the Norman kite-shaped design familiar from the Bayeux tapestry. Special emphasis has been given to the W crossing arch, which is the only one with volute capitals, and the only one with sawtooth bases consistently used. The latter motif also occurs at Thorney (see Rigold (1977, 103), where the capitals are simple cushions and scallops.

The Castor workshop is readily identified at nearby Sutton and Maxey. Boase's comparison with the cloister sculpture of Reading Abbey is not particularly persuasive. A pair of warriors with shields and maces, similar to those on the S crossing arch, 1st order W capital is found on the font at Wansford. The style of the Christ in Majesty relief over the S porch is not incompatible with the figural capitals of the crossing, and may also be dated c.1100-1110.

The relief supposed to come from St Kyneburgha's shrine (IV.5.c), was discovered in 1924 in use as the riser of one of the altar steps in the church. Discussions of its date involve also the related reliefs in the chancel at Fletton, which have the same treatment of heads and drapery, especially around the hem, and similar feet. The presence of the earlier frieze at Fletton, which is indisputably linked to the Mercian work at Breedon on the Hill (Leics) has led most scholars to suppose that all of these figures are from the same early period. Clapham (1927), 235-56, dated them to the late 8thc., as part of a group of Mercian works centred on the Hedda stone in Peterborough Cathedral. His view has been more or less accepted by the majority of scholars, including Gardner (1951), 38. Kendrick (1938), 176-78 and Tweddle (in London, BM (1991), 239-40) preferred an early 9thc. date, and Stone (1955), 24, a date in the mid-9thc. Rice (1952), 88 was unable to decide between the late 8thc and the early 10thc, but had a slight preference for the former. RCHME preferred the later date, 'perhaps 10th-century' for the Fletton figures.

As early as 1927, however, the President of the Society of Antiquaries (David Lindsay, Earl of Crawford) expressed a preference for a 12thc. date for all of these reliefs (see Clapham (1927), 239-40). A curious position was taken by Pevsner (1968), who related the Fletton figures to 'French sculpture of the early 12thc.' while attributing the obviously related Castor stone to the mid-9thc. The treatment of hair is certainly classicizing, and the drapery patterns have the kind of schematised fold pattern for which a date in the 12thc would be perfectly acceptable. However, neither on these reliefs nor on the Castor one is there anything diagnostically Romanesque. The Castor figures stand under fictive arcading, and the capitals have an Anglo-Saxon bulbous form while the book-cover held by the main figure is decorated with a knotwork design. The present author leans toward the view that these are Anglo-Saxon, and from a period exposed to Carolingian classicism, i.e. probably the early 9thc.

Benefice of Castor with Sutton and Upton with Marholm.


  • Anon., Antiquaries Journal. 4 (1924), 421.

  • T. S. R. Boase, English Art 1100-1216. Oxford 1953, 52, 73.

  • A. W. Clapham, 'The Carved Stones at Breedon on the Hill', Archaeologia 77 (1927), 219-40, esp. 235-36, 239-40.

  • A. Gardner, English Medieval Sculpture. Cambridge 1955, 38.

  • T. D. Kendrick, Anglo-Saxon Art to AD 900. London 1938, 176-78.

  • C. Keyser, A list of Norman Tympana and Lintels. London 1904, 9.

  • N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England. Bedfordshire and the County of Huntingdon and Peterborough. Harmondsworth 1968, 227-29.

  • D. Talbot Rice, English Art 871-1100. Oxford 1952, 88.

  • S. E. Rigold, 'Romanesque Bases, in and South-east of the Limestone Belt', in M. R. Apted, R. Gilyard-Beer and A. D. Saunders, Ancient Monuments and their Interpretation: Essays Presented to A. J. Taylor. London and Chichester 1977, 99-138.

  • L. Stone, Sculpture in Britain: The Middle Ages. Pelican History of Art, Harmondsworth 1955, 24, 62-64.

  • Victoria County History: Northamptonshire. II (1906)

  • G. Zarnecki, English Romanesque Sculpture 1066-1140. London 1951, 21-22, 32.

Exterior from S.
Exterior from NW.
Interior to SW.
Interior to E.


Site Location
National Grid Reference
TL 125 985 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Soke of Peterborough
now: Peterborough
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: Peterborough
medieval: not confirmed
now: St Kyneburgha
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
11 March 2004, 24 March 2004, 10 May 2014