Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross 6m south of Dowland church

A Scheduled Monument in Dowland, Devon

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Latitude: 50.8745 / 50°52'28"N

Longitude: -4.0364 / 4°2'11"W

OS Eastings: 256816.696

OS Northings: 110304.637

OS Grid: SS568103

Mapcode National: GBR KR.TC7T

Mapcode Global: FRA 26FS.H9Q

Entry Name: Churchyard cross 6m south of Dowland church

Scheduled Date: 18 October 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013733

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27305

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Dowland

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Dowland St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes a churchyard cross situated 6m to the south of Dowland
church. The monument survives as an octagonal socket stone and a slightly
tapering shaft. The socket stone is embedded in the grass and although the
base may be square, only the octagonal upper surface is visible. The diameter
of the socket stone is 0.83m, the length of each side is 0.39m and its height
is 0.17m. The shaft is square from the base to a height of 0.36m, at which
point there are rounded stops above which the shaft becomes octagonal. The
shaft diameter tapers to 0.27m at the top and the length of each side of the
octagon is 0.11m. The shaft has an overall height of 1.16m.
The cross is Listed Grade II.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone,
mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD).
Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as
stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm
Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for
preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of
sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between
parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate
battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and
protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market
places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some
crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for
example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the
scenes of games or recreational activity.
Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have
numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation
has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and
religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by
iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval
standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The
oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft
often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the
stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a
flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th
centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may
take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more
elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped
crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding
stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the
most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the
stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also
uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the
13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and
cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base,
buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and
head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our
understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our
knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which
survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their
original location, are considered worthy of protection.

The churchyard cross 6m south of Dowland church is a good example of its
class, with both the socket stone and part of the ancient shaft surviving. It
forms one of a pair of crosses in Dowland, the other being located at a
roadside junction nearby. It is also clearly visible in the churchyard being
located some 2m from the path to the church. The cross is likely to be in its
original position.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Masson Phillips, E M, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in The Ancient Stone Crosses of Devon, Part 2, , Vol. 70, (1938), 313
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS51SE-013, (1990)
MPP fieldwork by H. Gerrard, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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