Churchyard cross 20m south east of Down St Mary church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014648

Date first listed: 17-Jan-1996


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross 20m south east of Down St Mary church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: Mid Devon (District Authority)

Parish: Down St. Mary

National Grid Reference: SS 74306 04447


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 restoration, the churchyard cross 20m south east of Down St Mary church survives in what is thought likely to be its original position. This is one of two crosses situated within the churchyard.


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


The monument includes a churchyard cross standing 20m south east of Down St Mary church. It is one of a pair of crosses found in this churchyard. The monument survives as an ancient socket stone with a fragment of shaft onto which a tall modern shaft and Maltese style head have been added. The socket stone measures 0.88m square by 0.4m high, has corner shoulders, a chamfered top edge and is octagonal above, the length of each side of the octagon being 0.4m. The socket stone contains a fragment of ancient shaft, which is 0.3m square. The shaft has rounded stops and becomes octagonal above; the length of each side of the octagon is 0.13m. The shaft is 0.66m high, tapers upwards and is 0.28m wide at the top. Above this, the cross has been restored with the addition of a tall tapering shaft upon which is a modern Maltese style head embossed with decoration. The overall height of this restoration is some 3.5m. The cross is Listed 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: 27320

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Masson Phillips, E M, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in The Ancient Stone Crosses of Devon, Part 2, , Vol. 70, (1938), 320
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS70SW-001, (1982)
MPP fieldwork by H. Gerrard, (1994)

End of official listing