Wayside cross at Stoughton Cross
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1015451
Date first listed: 21-Jun-1946
Date of most recent amendment: 18-Nov-1996
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Sedgemoor (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: ST 42478 49659
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
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.
The wayside cross at Stoughton Cross survives well, and, with the exception of the cross head, with all of its original elements intact. Although moved a short distance, the cross still marks the crossroads as intended by its construction in the 15th century. Thus its presence marks the significance which this crossroads had in the medieval period. Close by the cross is a well which is claimed to be a holy well.
The monument includes a cross situated on a roadside verge at a crossroads at
Stoughton Cross. The cross lies in a small coppice surrounded by a hedge.
The cross, which is Listed Grade II*, has a base, a three step calvary, a
socket stone, and a shaft. The base is composed of two courses of stone
blocks, and is 2.7m square and 0.3m high. The first step of the calvary is
2.6m wide and 0.2m high; the second step is 1.9m wide and 0.3m high; the third
step is 1.35m wide and 0.25m high. Above this is the square socket stone, each
side of which is 0.8m long. The socket stone is 0.5m high with broaches at its
top corners producing an octagonal top. The square socket at its centre
measures 0.35m across. The c.1.9m high shaft, square at the bottom, tapers to
a tenon and becomes octagonal in section. The cross is believed to be 15th
The cross apparently once stood at the intersection of the crossroads c.15m to
the south of its present position. In the 19th century the vicar of Wedmore
revived the custom of preaching from this cross. The abacus cross head
depicted in a mid-19th century drawing has disappeared.
To the west of the cross, c.6.1m away, is a well. This is not referenced in
any sources, but it might have been a holy well. This is not included in the
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 1 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: 28816
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Pooley, C, Old Stone Crosses of Somerset, (1877), 111-112
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