Watching Place Cross: a wayside cross at the junction of the B3212 with the B3344


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009176

Date first listed: 16-Feb-1955

Date of most recent amendment: 01-Nov-1994


Ordnance survey map of Watching Place Cross: a wayside cross at the junction of the B3212 with the B3344
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: Teignbridge (District Authority)

Parish: North Bovey

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 71295 84187

Reasons for Designation

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 ordinary settlements or on routes having 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 350 wayside crosses are known nationally, concentrated in south west England throughout Cornwall and on Dartmoor where they form the commonest type of stone cross. A small group also occurs on the North York Moors. Relatively few examples have been recorded elsewhere and these are generally confined to remote moorland locations. Outside Cornwall almost all wayside crosses take the form of a `Latin' cross, in which the cross-head itself is shaped within the projecting arms of an unenclosed cross. In Cornwall wayside crosses vary considerably in form and decoration. The commonest type includes a round, or `wheel', head on the faces of which various forms of cross or related designs were carved in relief or incised, the spaces between the cross arms possibly pierced. The design was sometimes supplemented with a relief figure of Christ and the shaft might bear decorative panels and motifs. Less common forms in Cornwall include the `Latin' cross and, much rarer, the simple slab with a low relief cross on both faces. Rare examples of wheel-head and slab-form crosses also occur within the North York Moors group. Most wayside crosses have either a simple socketed base or show no evidence for a separate base at all. Wayside crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval religious customs and sculptural traditions and to our knowledge of medieval routeways and settlement patterns. All wayside crosses which survive as earth- fast monuments, except those which are extremely damaged and removed from their original locations, are considered worthy of protection.

Watching Place Cross is a highly visible medieval cross on a major route across Dartmoor. It is well preserved. Its primitive style, with very stumpy arms, indicates that it may possibly be a Christianised prehistoric standing stone.


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross formed from a single piece of moderately coarse granite, which is cemented to a granite socket stone. It is set on the top of a hedgebank at the point where the B3212 Moretonhampstead-Princetown road joins the B3344, a road which is known as Long Lane. The original location of the cross was a short distance to the north, at a point now occupied by Beetor Cross. This area is the subject of a separate scheduling. The arms of the cross, which are very stumpy, are aligned approximately north west-south east. The head of the cross is also very short, but both head and arms are likely to be showing more or less their original dimensions. The north east face of the shaft has a bulge, giving it maximum dimensions of 0.4m by 0.3m. Without the bulge the shaft is approximately square in section, measuring 0.33m by 0.3m. The height of the cross is 1.44m. The total width across the arms is 0.38m. The south east arm extends 0.08m from the shaft and has a depth of 0.26m. The north west arm, which has been broken off at its western corner, extends a maximum of 0.11m from the shaft, and has a depth of 0.25m. The head, which has a width of 0.19m on its south west face, extends only 85mm above the arms. On the south west face of the shaft, between the arms, there is an incised cross, obscured by lichens. It measures approximately 0.2m by 0.2m, with the cut being 25mm wide and 5mm deep. The socket stone has dimensions of 0.8m (south east) by 0.6m (north east) by 0.9m (north west) by 0.9m (south west). Its north west edge is broken away. No drill marks were noticed on the stone. The maximum depth of the socket stone is 0.33m. The cross shaft appears to rest on the socket to which it is attached with cement. This suggests that the cross and socket did not originally belong together. An iron clamp at the base of the north west face of the shaft secures the shaft to the socket stone. The clamp extends 0.15m up the shaft. An iron wedge is visible at the base of the shaft on its south east side. The cross was restored to this position in 1899 having been in use as a gatepost in an adjoining field for some years before. Broken metal plugs fill two holes on the south west face of the shaft between 50mm and 120mm below the arms. The primitive style of this cross, with its short head and arms, makes it a candidate for being a Christianised prehistoric standing stone.

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: 24827

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Crossing, W, The Ancient Stone Crosses of Dartmoor, (1902), 144-5

End of official listing