Churchyard cross, 5m south of the porch of St Leonard's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019233

Date first listed: 18-Jul-2000


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross, 5m south of the porch of St Leonard's Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: South Hams (District Authority)

Parish: Halwell and Moreleigh

National Grid Reference: SX 77737 53187


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.

The churchyard cross, 5m south of the porch of St Leonard's Church is a particularly well-preserved example, although moved from its original position nearby in 1934. The marks of an attempt to fell the cross, probably during the Reformation of the 16th century, are very unusual, especially as the head was successfully removed from further up the shaft. The present head is an unusually accurate restoration.


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


This monument includes a free-standing granite cross of 14th or 15th century date situated in the churchyard, south of the porch of St Leonard's Church. It is Listed Grade II. The monument survives as a tapering octagonal granite shaft, 2.17m high, leaded into a socketed octagonal base. The four oblique faces of the shaft run out to a square section between 0.23m and 0.35m from the bottom. Constructed from a single piece of granite, the base is a maximum of 0.45m high and 0.93m across the flat sides of the octagon. Turf obscures any foundations. The original head, which is 0.76m high from the surviving shaft and 0.57m across its arms, was replaced by a granite one in 1934. The arms of the head are octagonal in section, flared out at the terminals. An important feature of the shaft is evidence for attempted felling, on its south side, at 1.38m from its base. This takes the form of apparent axe scars at an angle of about five degrees to the horizontal. This could have taken place during the 16th century, when religious iconoclasm was at its height. It is common for crosses to have been successfully felled at this level. The modern path surfaces, where they fall within the cross's 2m protective margin, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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: 33741

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), 338

End of official listing