Week Down cross: a wayside cross 530m south west of Yellam


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009191

Date first listed: 23-Feb-1971

Date of most recent amendment: 15-Sep-1994


Ordnance survey map of Week Down cross: a wayside cross 530m south west of Yellam
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. 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: West Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Chagford

National Park: DARTMOOR

National Grid Reference: SX 71158 86534

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.

Week Down cross is a well preserved example of a medieval wayside cross, in a striking location with wide views. Its relatively primitive style suggests a considerable age, and even the possibility of having a prehistoric origin.


The monument includes a well preserved wayside cross, formed from a single piece of coarse granite, and set on open ground, some 9m north of the edge of what is now a minor road. There are wide views from this location. The arms of the cross, which are very stumpy, are aligned nearly north-south. The head of the cross is rounded. The cross has a substantial lean to the south west, but appears to be stable. The maximum visible length of the cross is 2.09m. Its present maximum height above the turf on the south side is 1.95m. The shaft is roughly rectangular in section, but tapers on the north and south faces from the base upwards. At the base it has maximum dimensions of 0.52m by 0.42m but under the arms this has been reduced to about 0.3m by 0.40m. The head is further reduced in size, to about 0.24m by 0.33m. The south east corner of the shaft has a chamfer with a maximum width of about 50mm. The other edges of the shaft are slightly rounded. Both arms appear to be intact, yet extend a maximum of only 70mm from the shaft. The south arm has a depth of 0.28m, and the north arm a depth of 0.23m. The head is straight-edged on the north side, but has a rounded top and south side. It extends 0.3m above the arms. On the east face, between the arms, there is an incised cross with four splayed ends. The cross measures 0.24m by 0.24m. The cut is 35mm-40mm wide, expanding to a maximum of 60mm at the splayed ends. The depth of the cut is a maximum of about 15mm. Between the arms of the west face is an incised cross with splayed arms. It measures 0.19m horizontally by 0.2m vertically. The cut has a width ranging from 40mm at the centre to 50mm at the splayed ends. The maximum depth of the cut is 15mm. On the north face of the shaft, 0.23m below the arms, the letters IA are finely incised slightly east of the centre of the shaft. The letters are 60mm high. The cuts are 3mm-4mm wide and 1mm-2mm deep. There is a possible cross-piece on the stem of the letter I. Four slab-like stones surround the base of the cross, one for each face, and appear to be securing the cross. The cross is not quite in its original situation having been moved in 1867. It now appears to be sited on top of a stony scarp, which may be prehistoric. The scarp leads to the south west where its stony composition is visible where it is crossed by a path. The scarp is approximately 3m in width by 0.5m in height. This cross is a strong candidate for being a Christianised prehistoric standing stone, on account of its very stumpy yet seemingly original arms, its rounded head, its relatively undressed state, and its impressive location.

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: 24824

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Crossing, W, The Ancient Stone Crosses of Dartmoor, (1902)
Crossing, W, The Old Stone Crosses of the Dartmoor Borders, (1892), 118

End of official listing