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Village cross in Northlew, 40m south west of the church

A Scheduled Monument in Northlew, Devon

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Latitude: 50.7726 / 50°46'21"N

Longitude: -4.1223 / 4°7'20"W

OS Eastings: 250452.686202

OS Northings: 99151.89526

OS Grid: SX504991

Mapcode National: GBR NX.0NZ0

Mapcode Global: FRA 2771.KV4

Entry Name: Village cross in Northlew, 40m south west of the church

Scheduled Date: 20 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013716

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27333

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Northlew

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Northlew St Thomas of Canterbury

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes the village cross of Northlew, situated in the middle
of the road to the church, at a T junction within the village.
The cross has a three stepped octagonal pedestal with projecting top edges.
The uppermost step has its sides decorated with carved ecclesiastical motifs.
All the steps of the pedestal are constructed from large slabs of granite. The
bottom step is 3.1m in diameter, the length of each octagonal side is 1.32m
and it is 0.76m high. The second step has a diameter of 2.6m, the length of
each octagonal side is 0.92m and it is 0.48m high. The upper step has a
diameter of 1.7m, the length of each octagonal side is 0.7m and it is 0.5m
high. Above is a socket stone, which is also ornamented. It is square at the
base and octagonal above. The base measures 0.9m long, 0.88m wide and 0.52m
Into the socket a modern shaft has been erected which is square at the base,
0.45m long and wide, octagonal above and tapers upwards; it then expands to
support the original lantern head. This is square in shape, with gabled sides
under each of which there is a raised cross within a cusped niche. The height
of both shaft and head is approximately 3m.
The cross was restored under the direction of Reverend T England in 1850 and
the shaft was restored in 1900 by Hems and Sons under the direction of
Reverend John Worthington.
The cross is Listed Grade II.
Excluded from the scheduling are the metalled road surface where it
falls within the cross's protective margin, although the ground beneath the
road surface is included.

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

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.

Despite restoration, the village cross in Northlew survives comparatively well
and is likely to be in its original position. The elaborately decorated
pedestal is a particularly unusual feature.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Masson Phillips, E, 'Devonshire Association Transactions' in The Ancient Stone Crosses of Devon : Part 1, , Vol. 69, (1936-37), 332-3
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX59NW-035, (1990)
MPP fieldwork by H. Gerrard, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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