Ancient Monuments

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Standing cross 6m south of St Mary's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Silverton, Devon

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Latitude: 50.8151 / 50°48'54"N

Longitude: -3.4825 / 3°28'56"W

OS Eastings: 295655.821398

OS Northings: 102777.113825

OS Grid: SS956027

Mapcode National: GBR LJ.XTVX

Mapcode Global: FRA 36LY.929

Entry Name: Standing cross 6m south of St Mary's Church

Scheduled Date: 5 December 1955

Last Amended: 9 February 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019542

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34258

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Silverton

Built-Up Area: Silverton

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Silverton St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes a standing cross situated 6m south of the church porch
at Silverton. It survives as a socket stone and section of shaft set within a
more modern pedestal. The shaft is square in section measuring 0.38m square at
the base and tapering upwards and is 0.85m high. The shaft has a deeply
incised decoration at each of the corners and on the western side a small
section of a carved decorative canopied niche is visible at a height of 0.63m
from the base of the shaft. This cross would originally have supported an
elaborate lantern head, although this and the upper portion of the shaft are
now missing. The shaft is set into a square socket stone measuring 0.87m
square and 0.4m high. This is deeply incised at the corners and also bears a
carved quatrefoil within a square panel on all four faces. The cross and shaft
are fashioned in volcanic trap and are thought to date to the 15th century.
The socket stone is set into a more modern two stepped octagonal pedestal, the
base of which measures 2.7m in diameter and 1.14m high overall. The pedestal
has a chamfered base and is constructed from similar red stone to that of the
socket stone and shaft.
The cross is Listed Grade II.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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 standing cross 6m south of St Mary's Church, despite historic damage,
survives comparatively well and is decorated with deep carvings as well as
bearing part of a once elaborate canopied niche. This is a type found less
commonly in Devon, since usually these are the more simple Latin style

Source: Historic England


Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SS90SE4.1, (1989)

Source: Historic England

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