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Bennett's Cross: a wayside cross on the south side of the B3212, 900m north east of the Warren House Inn

A Scheduled Monument in Dartmoor Forest, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.6193 / 50°37'9"N

Longitude: -3.8673 / 3°52'2"W

OS Eastings: 268000.684266

OS Northings: 81622.305992

OS Grid: SX680816

Mapcode National: GBR Q9.W8BV

Mapcode Global: FRA 27SF.H6J

Entry Name: Bennett's Cross: a wayside cross on the south side of the B3212, 900m north east of the Warren House Inn

Scheduled Date: 27 June 1963

Last Amended: 15 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009189

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24822

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Dartmoor Forest

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: North Bovey St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Exeter

Details

The monument includes an impressively sited and well-preserved monolithic
wayside cross of coarse granite with large feldspar crystals, located about
16m south of the B3212 road between Postbridge and Moretonhampstead.
The arms of the cross are aligned due north-south. The cross has a maximum
height above the ground surface of 1.85m. The shaft is curiously misshapen.
The lowest 0.6m is straight, but it then bends northwards about 50mm, before
straightening up to the arms. The east side of the shaft bulges outwards in
its middle portion. The shaft does not have defined or chamfered edges, but
is roughly rectangular in section , having a maximum west-east thickness of
0.36m and a maximum north-south thickness of 0.46m.
The head of the cross extends 0.24m above the arms, and tapers towards the
top, where it is only 0.2m wide compared with 0.29m wide where it joins the
arms.
The southern arm of the cross extends a maximum of 0.1m from the shaft, and
has a depth of 0.23m. The northern arm extends 0.14m, and has a depth of
0.27m.
The cross was damaged in 1982, probably by lightning, and was repaired in
1983. The east face of the cross is damaged between the arms, and the west
face has suffered damage on the northern arm. The latter destroyed the first
downstroke of the letter `W' which is part of an inscription `WB' in letters
0.12m high with incisions approximately 15mm wide by 7mm deep. These letters
probably stand for Warren Bound, as the cross was a boundmark for a rabbit
warren in the 18th and 19th century. The cross is also a boundmark between
the parishes of Chagford and North Bovey.
The northern edge of the north arm has a crack running vertically down it.
The crack is open for about 10mm. There is a vertical hairline crack about
170mm long, also on the northern edge of the north arm, and about 40mm in from
the west face of the arm. Both these cracks are partially filled.
The cross appears to be set in an embanked hollow about 4m in diameter and
defined by scarps about 0.15m high. A possible bank on the west side is about
1.5m wide.
The style of this cross, which is unlike any other recorded Dartmoor cross,
combined with its remote yet conspicuous location, make it a strong candidate
for being a Christianised prehistoric standing stone.

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.

Bennetts Cross is one of the most unusually distinctive of surviving wayside
crosses on moorland Dartmoor, and is easily visible from the road. Its
irregular shape gives it an ancient appearance, and its use as a boundmark for
both parish and rabbit warren gives it added status. The stone may be
prehistoric in origin.

Source: Historic England

Sources

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

Source: Historic England

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