Luscombe Cross


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019235

Date first listed: 13-Mar-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Jul-2000


Ordnance survey map of Luscombe Cross
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. 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: South Hams (District Authority)

Parish: Harberton

National Grid Reference: SX 79241 57914


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.

Luscombe Cross is a well-preserved example of a rare isolated preaching cross situated at a road junction, an uncommon location for this type of cross. It has an unusual history subsequent to its slighting during the Reformation of the 16th century, including its reuse as a direction post in the 17th century.


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


The monument includes a free-standing stone cross situated in the angle of the junction of two roads; to Luscombe and Harberton. It stands on partly grassed open ground, probably in its original position and may date from the 15th century. The cross is Listed Grade II. The cross comprises a heavy octagonal base of granite, surmounted by a granite shaft whose upper half was replaced in 1895. The base, which is 0.75m high, is partly buried in the turf which is raised here in a low mound. It measures 1.13m across its flat sides, and has a heavily chamfered upper part, below a rough roll moulding. Above this, the top is slightly convex with the shaft socketed in and set with lead. The shaft, of rectangular section, has oblique chamfers on all four corners, with pyramid stops to the base. The medieval shaft survives to 0.85m high and tapers in width from 0.27m at the base to 0.32m at its top and in thickness from 0.26m to 0.23m. Heavy directional letters have been dressed onto all four flat sides: T - Totnes (north side), D - Dartmouth (east), K - Kingsbridge (south), and B - Brent (west). Beneath these some smaller letters, probably initials, are crudely incised. In 1895, a new upper shaft and Celtic wheel head, 1.2m higher than the original cross, was added with additional Roman numerals for the distances involved. These do not match up, and it is obvious that the cross head was put on the wrong way round. The original head could have been lost during the Reformation in the 16th century. The letters are typical of granite direction posts of the 17th century in this area. The modern road surface is excluded from the scheduling where it falls within the 2m protective margin of the cross, although the ground beneath it 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: 33743

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), 399

End of official listing