SANCTUARY CROSSES

Three stone crosses have survived since the medieval period

The Bishop Burton cross at Killingwoldgraves

The sanctuary crosses, each about two miles from Beverley Minster, have been a welcome sight for desperate people fleeing from their pursuers.

Each of the four main roads leading to Beverley had such a stone marker, but only 3 survive. Originally these markers were tall columns of stone with richly carved top crosses. These crosses, mentioned in the days of Elizabeth l, were probably broken off after the Reformation in 1534. The stones formed the outermost ring of sanctuary that surrounded the Minster.

If a pursuer caught the fugitive inside this outer ring he could have to pay £8 to the church authorities for the violation of sanctuary. The fines to be paid rose at the violation of the five inner boundaries. The second boundary was the town edge where other carved stone crosses were placed. The £16 penalty would deter all but the most determined.

The fugitive had to cross the churchyard boundary next, with its £48 penalty, to reach the church itself. Beverley may well have had a knocker on the door (like that at Durham Cathedral) with a priest waiting just inside the entrance of the church to receive the person. It has been suggested that the criminals entered during darkness, were fed and sheltered, and then interrogated on the following morning. Only extremely wealthy vengeance seekers could afford the £96 fine at the door. Once the Quire was reached the huge sum of £144 was demanded.