Higher Combe cross: a wayside cross in a field 250m east of Higher Combe


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009181

Date first listed: 28-Oct-1994


Ordnance survey map of Higher Combe cross: a wayside cross in a field 250m east of Higher Combe
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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: Lustleigh

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 77764 82535


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.

Higher Combe cross consists of the head and arms of a simple medieval wayside cross, now set in a striking position on a boulder in a field which can be seen from the public road to the west. It is of particular interest because of its close proximity to a hollow way which may mark the line of an important medieval route.


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


The monument includes the well preserved head, arms and portion of shaft of a medieval wayside granite cross set on a boulder in a field on the east side of a minor road leading from Lustleigh northwards towards Moretonhampstead. The total height of the cross is 0.69m. Its width across the arms, which are aligned north-south, is 0.65m. The shaft survives for only 0.18m below the arms and is neatly rectangular in section, measuring 0.32m by 0.26m. The head of the cross extends above the arms 0.22m, and has a width of 0.28m. The top of the head is slightly misshapen due to weathering or damage. Both arms extend 0.15m beyond the shaft and are 0.27m deep. The shaft is fixed onto a massive granite boulder (typical of the locality) by four iron clamps, one on each side, set in lead. The clamps extend 50mm- 70mm up the shaft of the cross. On its west side, the boulder is about 0.9m high. A few metres to the north and east of the boulder there is an ancient hollow way running down the hillslope. This may well have been an important route in medieval times, and the cross may originally have been sited beside it. The cross is said to have been found in the centre of the field in the 19th century and was fixed in its present position in 1860. The cross is a Listed Building Grade II.

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: 24833

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Crossing, W, The Old Stone Crosses of the Dartmoor Borders, (1892), 134-5

End of official listing