Hele Cross: a wayside cross 700m south east of Wormhill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009178

Date first listed: 16-Feb-1955

Date of most recent amendment: 15-Sep-1994


Ordnance survey map of Hele Cross: a wayside cross 700m south east of Wormhill
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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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 72133 84163


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

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.

Hele Cross is one of the best preserved and most elegantly finished of late medieval Dartmoor wayside crosses. It is conspicuously sited at a junction of minor roads.


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


The monument includes an exceptionally well preserved and elegant late medieval wayside cross formed from a single piece of moderately coarse granite. It is set on a bank in a square granite socket stone which itself is resting on three courses of visible stonework, below which there is a drop of about 0.8m to the road level. It is at a T-junction of minor roads, on the east side of the junction. The arms are aligned nearly north west-south east. The shaft and arms are octagonal in section, with chamfers 0.1m wide. The chamfers have tall pointed stops, 0.35m high, at the base of the shaft. Both arms and head are splayed. The height of the shaft plus head is 1.76m. The shaft is neatly rectangular in section, with chamfers, and measures 0.29m by 0.25m. The width across the arms of the cross is 0.65m. Both arms have identical dimensions, extending 0.18m from the shaft and with a depth ranging from 0.27m against the shaft to 0.32m at their splayed ends. The head of the shaft extends a maximum of 0.19m above the arms. Its minimum width is 0.28m against the arms from where it splays upwards to a width of 0.31m at the top. The head has a flat top, of which a small portion has broken away at its northern end. An iron clamp on the east side of the cross secures the shaft to the socket stone. The clamp extends 0.25m up the face of the shaft. The socket stone measures 0.95m by 0.75m by 0.26m deep. The socket itself is not visible. The cross is well crafted and preserved, and is likely to date to the years around AD 1500. Local tradition says that it was removed from a chapel that once stood nearby, though it is likely to be more or less in situ. In 1868 it was made secure after being threatened by gravel digging.

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: 24829

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Crossing, W, The Ancient Stone Crosses of Dartmoor, (1902), 154

End of official listing