Standing cross 6m south of St Mary's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019542

Date first listed: 05-Dec-1955

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Feb-2001


Ordnance survey map of Standing cross 6m south of St Mary's 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: Silverton

National Grid Reference: SS 95656 02777


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 standing cross 6m south of St Mary's Church, despite historic damage, survives comparatively well and is decorated with deep carvings as well as bearing part of a once elaborate canopied niche. This is a type found less commonly in Devon, since usually these are the more simple Latin style crosses.


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


This monument includes a standing cross situated 6m south of the church porch at Silverton. It survives as a socket stone and section of shaft set within a more modern pedestal. The shaft is square in section measuring 0.38m square at the base and tapering upwards and is 0.85m high. The shaft has a deeply incised decoration at each of the corners and on the western side a small section of a carved decorative canopied niche is visible at a height of 0.63m from the base of the shaft. This cross would originally have supported an elaborate lantern head, although this and the upper portion of the shaft are now missing. The shaft is set into a square socket stone measuring 0.87m square and 0.4m high. This is deeply incised at the corners and also bears a carved quatrefoil within a square panel on all four faces. The cross and shaft are fashioned in volcanic trap and are thought to date to the 15th century. The socket stone is set into a more modern two stepped octagonal pedestal, the base of which measures 2.7m in diameter and 1.14m high overall. The pedestal has a chamfered base and is constructed from similar red stone to that of the socket stone and shaft. The cross is Listed Grade II.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 34258

Legacy System: RSM


Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS90SE4.1, (1989)

End of official listing