This browser is not fully supported by Historic England. Please update your browser to the latest version so that you get the best from our website.

Siward's or Nun's Cross

List Entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Siward's or Nun's Cross

List entry Number: 1009096

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: West Devon

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Dartmoor Forest

County: Devon

District: West Devon

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Walkhampton

National Park: DARTMOOR

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 10-Nov-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 06-Oct-2000

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 24133

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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

Reasons for Designation

A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone, mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD). Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the scenes of games or recreational activity. Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the 13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base, buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their original location, are considered worthy of protection.

Despite limited damage as a result of 19th century vandalism, Siward's or Nun's Cross survives very well, is complete and remains in its original socket stone. This cross served as a boundary marker from at least the 11th century and as a marker on an important route between two abbeys. Unusually this cross bears two separate inscriptions of different dates.

History

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

Details

This monument includes a large granite wayside cross, known as Siward's or Nun's Cross, lying immediately next to a long established track leading between Buckfast and Tavistock Abbeys. The cross lies on level ground between two hills and also represents a boundary marker between the 13th century properties of Buckland Abbey and the Forest of Dartmoor which belonged to the Crown. The cross stands 2.2m high and its arms measure 0.8m wide. It has a Latin head and a tapering shaft inserted into a socket stone. The western face bears the inscription BOCLOND in two lines below an incised cross at the junction of the arms. This inscription probably refers to Buckland Abbey, on whose side of the stone it is inscribed. The word SIWARD is incised into the eastern face of the cross, and it is considered that this may be recording that this stone once also formed an 11th century boundary marker for land belonging to Siward, Earl of Northumberland. In around 1846 the cross was pushed to the ground and broken in half. Within two years it was re-erected and strengthened with iron rods which are still visible.

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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Crossing, W, The Ancient Stone Crosses of Dartmoor, (1987), 73-78
Hemery, E, Walking Dartmoor's ancient tracks, (1986), 152
Starkey, F H, Dartmoor Crosses And Some Ancient Tracks, (1989), 24-27
Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX66NW20, (1986)

National Grid Reference: SX 60473 69943

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1009096 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 22-Nov-2017 at 04:14:17.

End of official listing