Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Sourton Down Cross, 360m north east of Aliceford Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Sourton, Devon

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Latitude: 50.7053 / 50°42'19"N

Longitude: -4.0611 / 4°3'39"W

OS Eastings: 254557.119655

OS Northings: 91545.973001

OS Grid: SX545915

Mapcode National: GBR Q0.4STB

Mapcode Global: FRA 27C6.ZMN

Entry Name: Sourton Down Cross, 360m north east of Aliceford Farm

Scheduled Date: 26 August 1924

Last Amended: 24 April 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020270

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34288

County: Devon

Civil Parish: Sourton

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Church of England Parish: Sourton

Church of England Diocese: Exeter


This monument includes a wayside cross known as Sourton Down Cross which
is situated beside a minor road 520m north west of Prewley. The monument
survives as a tall rectangular section cross composed of a single granite
slab up to 2.13m high, 0.45m wide and 0.3m thick at the base. It has short
arms which measure 0.51m wide. It is engraved with a Romano-Christian
inscription, which reads: PRINCIPI/IURIVOCI/AUDETI.
The stone is thought to date to the sixth century was reused as a wayside
cross in the 14th or 15th century. The cross also bears the initial
letters H (Hatherleigh) north facing, T (Tavistock) south facing, O
(Okehampton) east facing and L (Launceston) west facing. This indicates
its further reuse as a route marker. It was relocated to its present
position following alterations to the A30 trunk road in the 1980s. The
cross is Listed Grade II.

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

Wayside crosses are one of several types of Christian cross erected during the
medieval period, mostly from the 9th to 15th centuries AD. In addition to
serving the function of reiterating and reinforcing the Christian faith
amongst those who passed the cross and of reassuring the traveller, wayside
crosses often fulfilled a role as waymarkers, especially in difficult and
otherwise unmarked terrain. The crosses might be on regularly used routes
linking ordinary settlements or on routes having a more specifically religious
function, including those providing access to religious sites for parishioners
and funeral processions, or marking long-distance routes frequented on
Over 350 wayside crosses are known nationally, concentrated in south west
England throughout Cornwall and on Dartmoor where they form the commonest type
of stone cross. A small group also occurs on the North York Moors. Relatively
few examples have been recorded elsewhere and these are generally confined to
remote moorland locations.
Outside Cornwall almost all wayside crosses take the form of a `Latin' cross,
in which the cross-head itself is shaped within the projecting arms of an
unenclosed cross. In Cornwall wayside crosses vary considerably in form and
decoration. The commonest type includes a round, or `wheel', head on the faces
of which various forms of cross or related designs were carved in relief or
incised, the spaces between the cross arms possibly pierced. The design was
sometimes supplemented with a relief figure of Christ and the shaft might bear
decorative panels and motifs. Less common forms in Cornwall include the
`Latin' cross and, much rarer, the simple slab with a low relief cross on both
faces. Rare examples of wheel-head and slab-form crosses also occur within the
North York Moors group. Most wayside crosses have either a simple socketed
base or show no evidence for a separate base at all.
Wayside crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval
religious customs and sculptural traditions and to our knowledge of medieval
routeways and settlement patterns. All wayside crosses which survive as earth-
fast monuments, except those which are extremely damaged and removed from
their original locations, are considered worthy of protection.

Sourton Down Cross shows several different phases of reuse as a nationally
rare Early Christian inscribed stone, a wayside cross and later as a route
marker. This demonstrates its longevity as an important local landmark.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Sourton Down Cross, (2000)

Source: Historic England

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