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Higher Combe cross: a wayside cross in a field 250m east of Higher Combe

A Scheduled Monument in Moretonhampstead, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.6297 / 50°37'46"N

Longitude: -3.7296 / 3°43'46"W

OS Eastings: 277764.341666

OS Northings: 82534.296921

OS Grid: SX777825

Mapcode National: GBR QK.0MK6

Mapcode Global: FRA 372D.NV7

Entry Name: Higher Combe cross: a wayside cross in a field 250m east of Higher Combe

Scheduled Date: 28 October 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009181

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24833

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Moretonhampstead

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Lustleigh

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Details

The monument includes the well preserved head, arms and portion of shaft of a
medieval wayside granite cross set on a boulder in a field on the east side of
a minor road leading from Lustleigh northwards towards Moretonhampstead.
The total height of the cross is 0.69m. Its width across the arms, which
are aligned north-south, is 0.65m. The shaft survives for only 0.18m below the
arms and is neatly rectangular in section, measuring 0.32m by 0.26m.
The head of the cross extends above the arms 0.22m, and has a width of 0.28m.
The top of the head is slightly misshapen due to weathering or damage.
Both arms extend 0.15m beyond the shaft and are 0.27m deep.
The shaft is fixed onto a massive granite boulder (typical of the locality)
by four iron clamps, one on each side, set in lead. The clamps extend 50mm-
70mm up the shaft of the cross. On its west side, the boulder is about 0.9m
high. A few metres to the north and east of the boulder there is an ancient
hollow way running down the hillslope. This may well have been an important
route in medieval times, and the cross may originally have been sited beside
it. The cross is said to have been found in the centre of the field in the
19th century and was fixed in its present position in 1860.
The cross is a Listed Building Grade II.

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.

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
pilgrimages.
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.

Higher Combe cross consists of the head and arms of a simple medieval wayside
cross, now set in a striking position on a boulder in a field which can be
seen from the public road to the west. It is of particular interest because of
its close proximity to a hollow way which may mark the line of an important
medieval route.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Crossing, W, The Old Stone Crosses of the Dartmoor Borders, (1892), 134-5

Source: Historic England

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