Windy Post: a wayside cross on open moorland 1.8km north of Sampford Spiney village


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008927

Date first listed: 17-Oct-1994


Ordnance survey map of Windy Post: a wayside cross on open moorland 1.8km north of Sampford Spiney village
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: West Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Whitchurch

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 53437 74290


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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. All wayside crosses on the Moor which survive as earth-fast monuments, except those which are extremely damaged and removed from their original locations, are considered worthy of protection.

Windy Post is a well preserved medieval wayside cross. By Dartmoor standards it has been well dressed, with chamfered edges. This suggests a relatively late medieval date, in which case it might be a replacement of an earlier cross. It is sited on the lowest moorland crossing point between the watersheds of the Rivers Walkham and Tavy, and must have been on an important medieval route. A published photographic record of the cross survives from c.1900.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a well preserved granite cross known as Windy Post or Beckamoor Cross, conspicuously sited on a col forming the lowest moorland crossing point between the watersheds of the Rivers Walkham and Tavy, on the line of a medieval route leading from Tavistock eastwards across Dartmoor, and beside two branches of the still flowing Grimstone and Sortridge leat. The cross is formed from a single piece of moderately coarse-grained granite. It has a considerable lean to the west though seems firmly set - the corner of a presumed socket stone is visible. The arms of the cross are aligned east-west. The total length of the cross is 2m. The shaft, arms and head all have well-chamfered edges, which make the cross octagonal in section, though discounting the chamfers the shaft is nearly square, being approximately 0.3m by 0.29m. The chamfers are between 0.1m and 0.11m wide. The head of the cross is rounded at the top, and extends 0.28m above the arms, while the arms extend 0.18m beyond the shaft and are 0.29m deep. An Ordnance Survey bench mark has been cut on the south side of the shaft - the top of the bench mark is 0.49m above the turf. The south side of the east arm of the cross is missing approximately 0.15m of chamfer, probably due to an old break. The visible portion of the presumed socket stone, which is of granite, measures 0.8m by 0.45m by 0.15m thick. It appears to be held up by another stone 0.8m by 0.26m by 0.16m thick angled underneath it on the WSW side. Another partially buried stone lies approximately 0.75m to the south. Its visible portion measures 0.55m by 0.4m by 0.15m thick. These stones are believed to form part of a platform on which the cross is sited.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 24812

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Crossing, W, The Ancient Stone Crosses of Dartmoor, (1902)
Crossing, W, The Ancient Stone Crosses of Dartmoor, (1902), 79-80
Crossing, W, The Ancient Crosses of Dartmoor, (1887), 37-39
Masson Phillips, E, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in The Ancient Stone Crosses of Devon : Part 1, , Vol. 69, (1936-37), 316

End of official listing