Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross 15m south east of St Mary's church

A Scheduled Monument in Poltimore, Devon

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Latitude: 50.7617 / 50°45'42"N

Longitude: -3.4673 / 3°28'2"W

OS Eastings: 296610.807334

OS Northings: 96814.66807

OS Grid: SX966968

Mapcode National: GBR P2.CK4H

Mapcode Global: FRA 37M2.H16

Entry Name: Churchyard cross 15m south east of St Mary's church

Scheduled Date: 6 October 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016219

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27340

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Poltimore

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Poltimore with Huxham

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes a churchyard cross 15m south east of St Mary's church.
The monument survives as a 15th century socket stone and shaft with a modern
head and arms. The socket stone is almost completely buried with only one
corner stop remaining visible. The octagonal top has a diameter of 1.06m
and the length of each side of the octagon is 0.46m. Within the socket stone
is a thick shaft of rectangular section with chamfered edges. At the base,
this measures 0.38m long by 0.32m wide. The shaft attains a height of 1.24m.
On top of the shaft a new head and arms are mounted, and these overhang the
shaft slightly. The head is of rectangular section with every angle chamfered.
It measures 0.51m wide at the arms and 0.32m thick and the overall height is
0.5m. On both the east and west faces of the modern head are Latin cross-
shaped recesses which measure 0.15m high and 0.09m wide.
The cross is Listed Grade II.
All gravestones which fall within the cross's 2m protective margin are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

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.

Despite partial restoration, the churchyard cross 15m south east of St Mary's
church survives comparatively well in what is likely to be its original

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), 316-317
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX99NE-012-02, (1986)
MPP fieldwork by H. Gerrard, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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