Ancient Monuments

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Medieval churchyard cross, 6m south east of the porch of St Andrew's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Harberton, Devon

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Latitude: 50.4148 / 50°24'53"N

Longitude: -3.7207 / 3°43'14"W

OS Eastings: 277839.233333

OS Northings: 58629.815433

OS Grid: SX778586

Mapcode National: GBR QK.G9TZ

Mapcode Global: FRA 373Y.L90

Entry Name: Medieval churchyard cross, 6m south east of the porch of St Andrew's Church

Scheduled Date: 18 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019234

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33742

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Harberton

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Harberton

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes a free-standing stone cross situated in the churchyard
of St Andrew's Church, 6m south east of the south porch. It is probably in
its original position and may date from the 15th century. The cross, which is
Listed Grade II, survives with an octagonal stepped base of two tiers,
constructed of dressed slate rubble, supporting a plinth, a socket stone,
shaft and 19th century calvary. Each tier of the base overhangs and is plain
chamfered on its underside. The bottom tier, which is partly buried in turf,
is 1.73m across its flat sides and at least 0.33m high. The top tier is 0.75m
across and 0.41m high. On top, a carved stone plinth of four pieces, two of
which are replacements, measures 0.13m high by 0.9m square. This supports an
intricately carved socket stone, 0.74m square and 0.52m high, carved to
imitate an octagon with square columns at the corners. The shaft, which is
socketed and leaded into the socket stone, tapers from 0.3m to 0.24m square at
its surviving height of 1.54m, above which is a lavishly carved calvary in
decorated style, probably of the late 19th century. This calvary is about
1.45m high and 0.5m square and is topped with a crocketed spire. It depicts
the Adoration, the Crucifixion and two Apostles with long flowing beards. A
3cm to 5cm lean to the north east was corrected when the calvary was added.
The stone used for all the carved elements, including the 19th century
additions, is a rusty yellow volcanic lava of unknown source. The original
cross head was probably removed during the Reformation of the 16th century, by
religious iconoclasts.
The modern path surface, where it falls within the 2m protective margin of the
cross, is excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath it is

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 medieval churchyard cross, 6m south east of the porch of St Andrew's
church is fairly complete, although its head is later, the original having
been removed during the Reformation, and replaced in the late 19th century by
a calvary, a rare feature in England. The particularly finely carved medieval
base and shaft are very unusual in an area where plain granite ones are
common. The cross is apparently on its original site near the south porch of
the church.

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), 339

Source: Historic England

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