Ancient Monuments

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Hele Cross: a wayside cross 700m south east of Wormhill

A Scheduled Monument in North Bovey, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6431 / 50°38'35"N

Longitude: -3.8098 / 3°48'35"W

OS Eastings: 272133.077057

OS Northings: 84163.388591

OS Grid: SX721841

Mapcode National: GBR QD.6YWL

Mapcode Global: FRA 27XC.ML8

Entry Name: Hele Cross: a wayside cross 700m south east of Wormhill

Scheduled Date: 16 February 1955

Last Amended: 15 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009178

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24829

County: Devon

Civil Parish: North Bovey

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: North Bovey St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes an exceptionally well preserved and elegant late
medieval wayside cross formed from a single piece of moderately coarse
granite. It is set on a bank in a square granite socket stone which itself is
resting on three courses of visible stonework, below which there is a drop of
about 0.8m to the road level. It is at a T-junction of minor roads, on the
east side of the junction.
The arms are aligned nearly north west-south east. The shaft and arms are
octagonal in section, with chamfers 0.1m wide. The chamfers have tall pointed
stops, 0.35m high, at the base of the shaft. Both arms and head are splayed.
The height of the shaft plus head is 1.76m. The shaft is neatly rectangular in
section, with chamfers, and measures 0.29m by 0.25m.
The width across the arms of the cross is 0.65m. Both arms have identical
dimensions, extending 0.18m from the shaft and with a depth ranging from 0.27m
against the shaft to 0.32m at their splayed ends.
The head of the shaft extends a maximum of 0.19m above the arms. Its minimum
width is 0.28m against the arms from where it splays upwards to a width of
0.31m at the top. The head has a flat top, of which a small portion has broken
away at its northern end.
An iron clamp on the east side of the cross secures the shaft to the socket
stone. The clamp extends 0.25m up the face of the shaft. The socket stone
measures 0.95m by 0.75m by 0.26m deep. The socket itself is not visible.
The cross is well crafted and preserved, and is likely to date to the years
around AD 1500. Local tradition says that it was removed from a chapel that
once stood nearby, though it is likely to be more or less in situ. In 1868 it
was made secure after being threatened by gravel digging.

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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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.

Hele Cross is one of the best preserved and most elegantly finished of late
medieval Dartmoor wayside crosses. It is conspicuously sited at a junction of
minor roads.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Crossing, W, The Ancient Stone Crosses of Dartmoor, (1902), 154

Source: Historic England

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