Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross 12m south of Sampford Courtenay church

A Scheduled Monument in Sampford Courtenay, Devon

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Latitude: 50.7946 / 50°47'40"N

Longitude: -3.9418 / 3°56'30"W

OS Eastings: 263237.921397

OS Northings: 101245.480375

OS Grid: SS632012

Mapcode National: GBR KW.ZC6Z

Mapcode Global: FRA 26MZ.XV2

Entry Name: Churchyard cross 12m south of Sampford Courtenay church

Scheduled Date: 12 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015607

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27308

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Sampford Courtenay

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Sampford Courtenay St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes a churchyard cross situated 12m south of Sampford
Courtenay church. It has an almost octagonal pedestal (partly cut away on the
western side by a pathway) with two steps, with an octagonal cross with head
and arms above. The lower step has been set into the slope of the churchyard.
Its overall diameter is 2.1m and the length of each side is 1.12m. The
pedestal stands up to 0.42m high, but this decreases to 0.15m on the east. The
upper step is octagonal with a diameter of 1.82m. The length of each side is
1.03m and it is 0.56m high. Both steps are constructed with large slabs of
granite and both have coved projecting tops. The truncated western side of the
pedestal has been faced with large slabs of granite, although the coving of
the upper step remains intact.
Inserted into the top of the upper step is a medieval cross. The base of
the cross measures 0.23m square with pointed stops; the shaft therefore
becomes octagonal as it tapers upwards. Beneath the arms the cross measures
0.16m wide. The arms and head are rectangular in section. The width at the
arms is 0.37m. The cross is 1.02m high, is quite crude and out of proportion
to the base.
Excluded from the scheduling is the metalled path surface where it falls
within the cross's protective margin, although the ground beneath is included.
The cross is Listed Grade II.

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

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 12m south of Sampford Courtenay church is in good
condition despite the truncation of the pedestal. The pedestal is likely to
be in its original position; the cross is of similar date, but may have been
imported from elsewhere. This is one of several crosses recorded in Sampford
Courtenay, representing an unusally rich concentration in this area.

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), 334-335
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS60SW-015,
MPP fieldwork by H. Gerrard, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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