Ancient Monuments

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Luscombe Cross

A Scheduled Monument in Ashprington, Devon

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Latitude: 50.4087 / 50°24'31"N

Longitude: -3.7008 / 3°42'2"W

OS Eastings: 279241.474003

OS Northings: 57913.916444

OS Grid: SX792579

Mapcode National: GBR QL.NNY9

Mapcode Global: FRA 374Z.21P

Entry Name: Luscombe Cross

Scheduled Date: 13 March 1964

Last Amended: 18 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019235

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33743

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Ashprington

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Harberton

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


The monument includes a free-standing stone cross situated in the angle of the
junction of two roads; to Luscombe and Harberton. It stands on partly grassed
open ground, probably in its original position and may date from the 15th
century. The cross is Listed Grade II.
The cross comprises a heavy octagonal base of granite, surmounted by a granite
shaft whose upper half was replaced in 1895. The base, which is 0.75m high,
is partly buried in the turf which is raised here in a low mound. It measures
1.13m across its flat sides, and has a heavily chamfered upper part, below a
rough roll moulding. Above this, the top is slightly convex with the shaft
socketed in and set with lead. The shaft, of rectangular section, has oblique
chamfers on all four corners, with pyramid stops to the base. The medieval
shaft survives to 0.85m high and tapers in width from 0.27m at the base to
0.32m at its top and in thickness from 0.26m to 0.23m. Heavy directional
letters have been dressed onto all four flat sides: T - Totnes (north side), D
- Dartmouth (east), K - Kingsbridge (south), and B - Brent (west). Beneath
these some smaller letters, probably initials, are crudely incised. In 1895, a
new upper shaft and Celtic wheel head, 1.2m higher than the original cross,
was added with additional Roman numerals for the distances involved. These do
not match up, and it is obvious that the cross head was put on the wrong way
round. The original head could have been lost during the Reformation in the
16th century. The letters are typical of granite direction posts of the 17th
century in this area.
The modern road surface is excluded from the scheduling where it falls within
the 2m protective margin of the cross, 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.

Luscombe Cross is a well-preserved example of a rare isolated preaching cross
situated at a road junction, an uncommon location for this type of cross. It
has an unusual history subsequent to its slighting during the Reformation of
the 16th century, including its reuse as a direction post in the 17th century.

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), 399

Source: Historic England

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