Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Week Barn Cross

A Scheduled Monument in North Tawton, Devon

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Latitude: 50.7974 / 50°47'50"N

Longitude: -3.9121 / 3°54'43"W

OS Eastings: 265344.088546

OS Northings: 101502.432749

OS Grid: SS653015

Mapcode National: GBR KY.Z0RH

Mapcode Global: FRA 26PZ.PQ1

Entry Name: Week Barn Cross

Scheduled Date: 12 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013717

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27316

County: Devon

Civil Parish: North Tawton

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: North Tawton St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes a wayside cross known as Week Barn Cross on the southern
side of the road between North Tawton and Sampford Courtenay standing 300m
south west of Taw Bridge Cross. The cross was moved to its present position
during a road improvement scheme but is believed to be very near to its
original location. The cross is roughly octagonal in section and trimmed at
the back. One of the arms has been broken off. The shaft measures 0.27m wide
at the base and tapers to 0.23m. The width at the arms is 0.44m, although this
would have originally been greater. The cross is 1.73m high.
A drill hole in the eastern side of the shaft indicates that it was probably
used as a gatepost at one time.
The cross is Listed Grade II.

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.

The wayside cross on the southern side of the road between North Tawton and
Sampford Courtenay survives well and forms an outlier to a group of crosses in
and around Sampford Courtenay. Although the cross is not in its original
position, the circumstances of its removal and the location from which it was
taken, are all well documented.

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), 333
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS60SE-015, (1982)
MPP fieldwork by H. Gerrard, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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