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HER Number:MDV8288
Name:Medieval Cross, Moretonhampstead


Medieval Cross in Cross Street, Moretonhampstead


Grid Reference:SX 755 860
Map Sheet:SX78NE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishMoretonhampstead
Ecclesiastical ParishMORETONHAMPSTEAD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX78NE/7
  • Old SAM County Ref: 355
  • Old SAM Ref: 34447

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • CROSS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD (Between))

Full description

Crossing, W., 1892, Old Stone Crosses of the Dartmoor Border, 123-4 (Monograph). SDV279564.

Anonymous, 1927, Proceedings of the Congress of the British Archaeological Association at Exeter, 20 (Article in Serial). SDV35433.

Masson Phillips, E. N., 1937, The Ancient Stone Crosses of Devon: Part I, 327 (Article in Serial). SDV240502.

Outside the churchyard gate in Moretonhampstead. Type B. A large octagonal pedestal with a chamfered plinth and a projecting top edge. A tree is growing on the pedestal, replacing the well-known 'Cross Tree'. Near one edge of the pedestal the head portion of the cross remains. As it now stands, it appears to be inverted. Octagonal in section, rather weathered, and a moulded collar marks the junction, below the arms, where the head originally joined the shaft. Between the arms on one face there is a recess in the shape of the head and arms of a cross, and on the other there is a rectangular recess.

Ministry of Works, 1950, Village cross, Cross Street (Schedule Document). SDV305611.

Cross, remains of, Cross Street. The head of a Medieval cross set in cement and sited by a tree called 'Old Cross Tree'. This is just outside the churchyard and is presumably the original site of the cross. The cross is incised on the front face in the centre of the arms.

Hughes, G. W. G., 1954, Moretonhampstead, 23-5 (Article in Serial). SDV314001.

The Cross Tree and the Old Market Cross. At this location stood an ancient elm tree immortalised by R. D. Blackmore in his novel 'Christowell'. Other names are associated with it include ‘The Dancing Tree’ and ‘The Punch Bowl Tree.’ The Cross was mentioned prior to 1636 and belonged to the church along with a large amount of the surrounding land and properties. The cross was an old Market Cross and held holy water.
The elm apparently grew by chance and the growth of the trees roots caused the cross to fall, breaking the shaft and leaving only the head, which remained at the base of the tree. The tree grew extensively and became the pride of the town. A Mr John Hancock opened an inn beside the site (now Cross Tree House) and pollarded the elm into the shape of a bowl, erecting a platform around the side of the tree where music and dancing took place, railed on each side. The rails went from the skittle alley on the site where a fine walled garden now exists, to the tree, and then a flight of steps went into the garden where people could ascend. Mr Hancock cared for the tree well from 1862 but it was partly destroyed in the storm of 13th October 1891. Although it was patched with bands and iron nails it eventually was destroyed entirely on 10th September 1903 during another storm. The memory of the Dancing Tree was enshrined in the book plate used at the Bowring Library.
A replacement tree was provided but it did not flourish and in 1912 it was replaced by a copper beech tree that was planted, while the cross was also raised and iron railings erected to protect the cross and the new tree. Other details: Photographs included.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1958, SX78NE8, SX78NE8 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV305616.

Cross head has circular hole in the top 0.1 metres in diameter and deep. The cross is chamfered and rests inside an iron railing on the west side of the tree growing centrally from the earth-filled socket of the pedestal. The cross head and pedestal constitute the remains of a churchyard cross. Other details: Sketch and photograph (photocopy of).

Robinson, R., 1982, List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1982 (Un-published). SDV345608.

Field Monuments Warden visit on 17th March 1982.

Masson Phillips, E. N., 1984, Supplementary Notes on the Ancient Stone Crosses of Devon (Seventh Paper), 147. Figure 13 (Article in Serial). SDV345276.

Gerrard, S., 1990-2002, Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset., MPP 156930, 24/01/2002 (Report - Survey). SDV277946.

Site visited on 24th January 2002. Octagonal base standing 0.6 metres high. Railings clearly once surrounded the top of the pedestal. Infill is grass and weeds and a very large beech tree. The pedestal is 3.2 metres in diameter and there are substantial cracks in what looks like recent mortar. The tree is still clearly pushing the pedestal apart. The cross head has clearly been cemented into the pedestal in an upside down position with the socket for the now lost shaft facing upwards. This socket measures 0.17 metres in diameter is 0.1 metres deep and at the time of the visit was filled with water. This head measures 0.7 metres wide by 0.62 metres high and has a t-shaped recess measuring 0.26 metres wide, 0.28 metres high and 0.03 metres deep cut into its western face. A 0.10 metres wide by 0.23 metres rectangular recess in the eastern face measures 0.03 metres deep. The pedestal is up to four courses high. A roadway drain is situated adjacent to the western side of the pedestal.

Harrison, B., 2001, Dartmoor Stone Crosses, 223-4 (Monograph). SDV345133.

Pedestal of an irregular octagonal old village cross. Moretonhampstead was an Anglo Saxon settlement in AD 700 and a Saxon church probably stood on the site of the 15th century church. The origibnal cross may have existed at this time.

Department of National Heritage, 2002, Moretonhampstead Cross (Correspondence). SDV305615.

Scheduled Monument Consent granted for repairs necessitated by tree root growth.

Richards, A., 2010, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV346017.

This feature is no longer a Listed structure.

Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

'Cross' shown on modern mapping.

Daniel, M. + Bearne, G., 2011-2018, Dartmoor Crosses (Website). SDV305618.

The cross stands beneath the Cross Tree, on a large octagonal pedestal. The present Copper Beech tree was planted to replace the original Elm, known as ‘The Dancing Tree’. It got this name from the fact that it was pollarded in such a way that a platform could be built on top of the trunk, which was used by the villagers for dancing and other entertainment. There were railings around the outside of the platform and it was reached by a flight of steps leading up from a nearby garden.
The tree was badly damaged in during a storm in 1891 when most of the upper part of it fell down, together with a large piece of the trunk. Although most of the trunk was found to be hollow, it was able to be put back and fastened into place. Although it continued to survive for a good many years thereafter, it has now been replaced by a Copper Beech Tree.
Only the head and a short length of the original shaft of the cross now remain in position. The outside face of the cross has an incised shape of a capital ‘T’, with a rectangular recess being incised on the inner face. An oval shaped cavity, with a moulding around it, is set into the top of the head. It is thought that this was either intended to hold holy water in connection with the church or was the base of a further decoration set on top of the cross.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV240502Article in Serial: Masson Phillips, E. N.. 1937. The Ancient Stone Crosses of Devon: Part I. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 69. A5 Hardback. 327.
SDV277946Report - Survey: Gerrard, S.. 1990-2002. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. MPP 156930, 24/01/2002.
SDV279564Monograph: Crossing, W.. 1892. Old Stone Crosses of the Dartmoor Border. Old stone crosses of the Dartmoor border. Unknown. 123-4.
SDV305611Schedule Document: Ministry of Works. 1950. Village cross, Cross Street. The Schedule of Monuments. Unknown.
SDV305615Correspondence: Department of National Heritage. 2002. Moretonhampstead Cross. Scheduled Monument Consent Letter. Unknown.
SDV305616Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1958. SX78NE8. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index. SX78NE8.
SDV305618Website: Daniel, M. + Bearne, G.. 2011-2018. Dartmoor Crosses. www.dartmoor-crosses.org.uk. Website.
SDV314001Article in Serial: Hughes, G. W. G.. 1954. Moretonhampstead. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 86. Unknown. 23-5.
SDV345133Monograph: Harrison, B.. 2001. Dartmoor Stone Crosses. Dartmoor Stone Crosses. Hardback Volume. 223-4.
SDV345276Article in Serial: Masson Phillips, E. N.. 1984. Supplementary Notes on the Ancient Stone Crosses of Devon (Seventh Paper). Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 116. Paperback Volume. 147. Figure 13.
SDV345608Un-published: Robinson, R.. 1982. List of Field Monument Warden Visits 1982. Lists of Field Monument Warden Visits. Printout.
SDV346017Personal Comment: Richards, A.. 2010.
SDV346129Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital). [Mapped feature: #108326 ]
SDV35433Article in Serial: Anonymous. 1927. Proceedings of the Congress of the British Archaeological Association at Exeter. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. 33. Unknown. 20.

Associated Monuments

MDV40264Related to: 31 Cross Tree House, Moretonhampstead (Building)
MDV40263Related to: Garden Walls to east of 31 Cross Street, Moretonhampstead (Monument)
MDV17592Related to: Rectory and then Inn, Cross Street, Moretonhampstead (Building)
MDV8283Related to: St. Andrew's Parish Church, Moretonhampstead (Building)
MDV122035Related to: War memorial cross in St. Andrew's Churchyard, Moretonhampstead (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:May 4 2018 11:49AM