A wayside cross called Hamel Down Cross.
Reasons for Designation
Dartmoor is the largest expanse of open moorland in southern Britain and, because of exceptional conditions of preservation, it is also one of the most complete examples of an upland relict landscape in the whole country. The great wealth and diversity of archaeological remains provides direct evidence for human exploitation of the Moor from the early prehistoric period onwards. The well preserved and often visible relationship between settlement sites, land boundaries, trackways, ceremonial and funerary monuments as well as later industrial remains, gives significant insights into successive changes in the pattern of land use through time. Wayside crosses are one of several types of Christian cross erected during the medieval period, mostly from the 9th to 15th centuries AD. In addition to serving the function of reiterating and reinforcing the Christian faith amongst those who passed the cross and of reassuring the traveller, wayside crosses often fulfilled a role as waymarkers, especially in difficult and otherwise unmarked terrain. The crosses might be on regularly used routes linking settlements, or on routes which might have a more specifically religious function, including those providing access to religious sites for parishioners and funeral processions, or marking long distance routes frequented on pilgrimages. Over 110 examples of wayside crosses are known on Dartmoor, where they form the commonest type of stone cross. Almost all of the wayside crosses on the Moor take the form of a `Latin' cross, in which the cross-head itself is shaped within the projecting arms of an unenclosed cross. Wayside crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval routeways, settlement patterns and the development of sculptural traditions. Despite having been re-used and relocated as a boundary marker the wayside cross called Hamel Down Cross survives comparatively well and has been re-used because of the reverence in which it was held and continued to be a focal point, albeit for a rather different purpose. Wayside crosses often bear marks of damage and destruction because they underwent the wrath of iconoclasts during periods of religious turmoil, and in this sense the damaged cross bears witness to such turbulent times, the evidence of which is clearly apparent.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 12 November 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
This monument includes a wayside cross situated close to the summit of the prominent Hameldown Tor. The wayside cross survives as a single roughly hewn granite slab of rectangular section, the top of the head and one arm are missing. The cross stands to a height of 1.4m and measures up to 0.6m wide across the remaining arm and shaft. A scatter of stones lies around the foot of the cross. The cross bears an inscription ‘HC DS 1854’ which stands for Hamel Down Cross, Duke of Somerset and the date. At this time the cross was moved to its current position to mark the boundary of Natsworthy Manor, owned by the Duke of Somerset at this time and there are similar boundary markers nearby, on a number of barrows, which are scheduled separately.