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Churchyard cross 12m north east of St John the Baptist's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Broad Clyst, Devon

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Latitude: 50.7663 / 50°45'58"N

Longitude: -3.4448 / 3°26'41"W

OS Eastings: 298204.362797

OS Northings: 97294.929

OS Grid: SX982972

Mapcode National: GBR P2.Y574

Mapcode Global: FRA 37N2.5R9

Entry Name: Churchyard cross 12m north east of St John the Baptist's Church

Scheduled Date: 25 November 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017195

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29693

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Broad Clyst

Built-Up Area: Broadclyst

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Broadclyst St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes a medieval churchyard cross, believed to be of 15th
century date, located in a prominent position in the churchyard in front of
the lych gate.
The cross, which is Listed Grade II, has been restored. It stands on a stepped
pedestal which may be of contemporary or later date. The medieval cross
comprises a socket stone, a shaft, and a cross head, all made of granite,
the nearest source of which is on Dartmoor. The socket stone is 1.15m square
at the base and 0.5m in height. It has rounded corner shoulders and is
octagonal above. The shaft is 0.35m square at the base, has rounded corner
stops, and is also octagonal above; it tapers upwards reaching a total height
of 3.3m inclusive of its cross head. The cross head is reported to have been
broken off in antiquity and restored to the cross at some unknown date. A
visible scar on the shaft 0.4m below the cross head arms would appear to
confirm that the head had been broken away at some stage. The entire cross
is supported upon a flight of three octagonal steps rising to a final square
step. The steeped pedestal is 3m in diameter at its base and is 1.3m high.
There is no record of the antiquity of this pedestal although it is unlikely
to be modern. It was probably constructed locally as it utilises locally
available volcanic building stone rather than granite and it may be medieval
or post-medieval in date; it forms an integral part of the presentation of the

All gravestones which fall within the cross's 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 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 medieval churchyard cross 12m north east of St John the Baptist's Church
survives exceptionally well with its original cross head apparently restored
to its former position. It is believed to stand either on or close to its
original location and it is in a prominent position in the churchyard facing
the lych gate.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Masson Phillips, E N, 'Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in The Ancient Stone Crosses of Devon, , Vol. 70, (1938), 315

Source: Historic England

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