Churchyard cross 8m north of Clyst St Lawrence church
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1014706
Date first listed: 11-Oct-1995
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: East Devon (District Authority)
Parish: Clyst St. Lawrence
National Grid Reference: SY 02673 99988
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.
The churchyard cross 8m north of Clyst St Lawrence church survives well and is likely to be in its original position. The cross is a good example of an elaborate and highly ornamented standing cross and is thought to be the only one in Devon with a bracketed niche on the shaft. Although the upper portion of the canopied head has been damaged it still retains much of its decoration.
This monument includes a churchyard cross 8m north of Clyst St Lawrence
church. The cross survives as a pedestal with two circular steps, an
octagonal socket stone resting on a low plinth, a decorated square shaft and
canopy head. The pedestal is built into the hillside of the churchyard and
its lower step is plain, built from coursed stone, has a diameter of 3.08m and
is 0.8m high. The upper step has a coved upper edge, a diameter of 2.08m and
is 0.42m high. Above is a low octagonal and chamfered plinth for the socket
stone. This has a diameter of 1.18m, the length of each octagonal side is
0.47m and it is 0.16m high. The socket stone has a chamfered top edge, rests
on this plinth, is octagonal and has a diameter of 0.97m. The length of each
octagonal side is 0.43m and it is 0.6m high.
The shaft measures 0.36m square at the base, tapers slightly upwards, and
is ornamented on each angle. On the eastern face of the shaft there is an
elaborately carved canopied niche, now empty, bracketed out from the surface
of the shaft, which is the only known example of its kind in Devon. At a
height of 2.25m there is an ornamented knop, above which is the damaged lower
portion of a highly ornamented canopy head which measures 1m high.
The cross is Listed Grade II.
Excluded from the scheduling is the church path surface where it falls within
the cross's protective margin, although the ground beneath the path surface is
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: 27342
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Masson Phillips, E, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in The Ancient Stone Crosses of Devon : Part 1, , Vol. 69, (1936-37), 69
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SY09NW-001-01, (1972)
MPP fieldwork by H. Gerrard, (1994)
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing