Ancient Monuments

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Lower Elsford cross: a wayside cross opposite the entrance to Lower Elsford Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Bovey Tracey, Devon

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Latitude: 50.6334 / 50°38'0"N

Longitude: -3.7091 / 3°42'32"W

OS Eastings: 279228.922001

OS Northings: 82913.390501

OS Grid: SX792829

Mapcode National: GBR QL.6DTR

Mapcode Global: FRA 373D.JTQ

Entry Name: Lower Elsford cross: a wayside cross opposite the entrance to Lower Elsford Farm

Scheduled Date: 4 May 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009183

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24835

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Bovey Tracey

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Bovey Tracey St Peter, St Paul and St Thomas

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes the arms and head of a massive but crudely worked
medieval wayside cross of coarse-grained granite, built into the base of a
hedge on the north side of a minor road, immediately opposite the entrance to
Lower Elsford Farm.
The cross is set at a slight angle into the hedge, so that the arms are
aligned north west/south east. The visible height of the cross is 0.6m.
The width across the arms is 0.8m. The north west arm is broken off and
cracked, but its top surface is flat and joins the head of the cross with a
neat right angle. From the head it extends about 0.2m. Below the arms it
extends 0.12m from the main shaft of the cross. The depth of this arm is
The south east arm looks unfinished. It extends 0.17m from the head of the
cross, and has a depth of 0.34m. The underside of the arm is flush with the
Against the arms, on the south west face, the head of the cross is 0.44m wide.
The head extends above the arms about 0.25m.
The thickness of the cross seems relatively slight, approximately 0.16m-0.2m.
The whole appearance of the cross is crude and it may be that it is an
unfinished specimen that went wrong in its manufacture.
On the opposite side of the road, at the west corner of the entrance to
Lower Elsford is an upright block of coarse granite, roughly rectangular in
shape. This has no particular distinguishing feature, but could have been part
of a cross shaft. This does not form part of the scheduling.

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.

Lower Elsford cross consists only of the head and arms of what was once, or
what was intended to be, a massive medieval wayside cross. It is an indicator
of the size of crosses that once existed in this area.

Source: Historic England

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