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HER Number:MDV8741
Name:Hamel Down Cross, Widecombe in the Moor


Wayside cross situated close to the summit of the prominent Hameldown Tor surviving as a single roughly hewn granite slab of rectangular section, the top of the head and one arm are missing. It stands 1.4 metres high, leaning slightly to the north-west, and is inscribed "HC DS 1854" (Hamel Down Cross, Duke of Somerset 1854) which relates to its re-use as a boundary stone to Natsworthy manor.


Grid Reference:SX 704 801
Map Sheet:SX78SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishManaton
Civil ParishWidecombe in the Moor
Ecclesiastical ParishWIDECOMBE IN THE MOOR

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX78SW13
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 445639
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX78SW/20
  • Old SAM County Ref: 861

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • WAYSIDE CROSS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD (Between))
  • BOUNDARY STONE (Post Medieval to Early 20th Century - 1540 AD to 1901 AD (Between))

Full description

Masson Phillips, E. N., 1937, The Ancient Stone Crosses of Devon: Part I, 330 (Article in Serial). SDV240502.

Hameldown Cross. About 0.5 kilometres south of the summit of Hameldown Tor. Type A. Measures 1.2 metres high; section is 20 centimetres long, 15 centimetres wide; north arm is 23 centimetres long.
A much mutilated Latin cross of rough rectangular section set up amongst some stones. The top of the head and one area are broken off and the remaining arm is much weathered. It is inscribed "HC DS 1854" (Hamildon Cross, Duke of Somerset) and marks the boundary of Natsworthy Manor which belonged to the duke of Somerset at that time.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1953, SX78SW13 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV303933.

The cross is on top of a big cairn (citing Worth who is apparently referring to Masson Phillips, 1937)
There is no trace of the alleged cairn now to be seen (9/11/1953).

Ancient Monuments, 1971, Hamel Down Cross, 13/1/1971 (Schedule Document). SDV303925.

Hameldown Cross. Remains of crude stone cross. Type A (Masson Phillips). Leaning to the west. Southern arm missing. The eastern face has been reused as a boundary stone, and is carved with 'BS 1834'.

Unknown, 1983, Slide of the Hamel Down Cross (Photograph). SDV303934.

Image of the cross.

Pattison, P., 1990, Challacombe (Report - Survey). SDV290295.

(18/07/1990) SX 7042 8009 Hamel Down Cross.
A cross of coarse-grained granite, rectangular in section and parallel-sided up to the one remaining arm. The eastern face is smoothed to take the inscription, the western face rough. It stands 1.4 metres high, leaning slightly to the north-west, and is 0.55 metres wide except across the arm where it is 0.65 metres. On average it is 0.17 metres thick. The tip and southern arm are missing and the whole south and north edges neatly trimmed. The one remaining arm is rounded, almost semi-circular. A scatter of loose stones lie around the base.
The inscription in three tiers reads " HC DS 1854" (Hamel Down Cross, Duke of Somerset 1854) and is in capital letters 9 to 12 centimetres high. It relates to re-use as a boundary stone to Natsworthy manor in the mid-19th century: other purpose made boundary stones of the same date can be seen in the barrows along the ridge: Broad Barrow (SX 77 NW 1), Single Barrow (SX 77 NW 22) and Two Barrows (SX 77 NW 23).
The cross is almost certainly not in its original position and presumably was moved in the mid-19th century to act as a boundary stone. It stands in a dip in the ridge, barely visible from any distance to travellers along the ridge, perhaps at an intersection of tracks or crossroads (citing Pattison, P., Duchy Farms Survey).

Ordnance Survey, 2016, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359352.

'Hamel Down Cross (remains of)' depicted on the modern mapping.

Historic England, 2016, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV359353.

This monument includes a wayside cross situated close to the summit of the prominent Hameldown Tor. The wayside cross survives as a single roughly hewn granite slab of rectangular section, the top of the head and one arm are missing.
The cross stands to a height of 1.4m and measures up to 0.6m wide across the remaining arm and shaft. A scatter of stones lies around the foot of the cross. The cross bears an inscription ‘HC DS 1854’ which stands for Hamel Down Cross, Duke of Somerset and the date. At this time the cross was moved to its current position to mark the boundary of Natsworthy Manor, owned by the Duke of Somerset at this time and there are similar boundary markers nearby, on a number of barrows, which are scheduled separately.
Despite having been re-used and relocated as a boundary marker the wayside cross called Hamel Down Cross survives comparatively well and has been re-used because of the reverence in which it was held and continued to be a focal point, albeit for a rather different purpose. Wayside crosses often bear marks of damage and destruction because they underwent the wrath of iconoclasts during periods of religious turmoil, and in this sense the damaged cross bears witness to such turbulent times, the evidence of which is clearly apparent.

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. 330.
SDV290295Report - Survey: Pattison, P.. 1990. Challacombe. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Archaeological Survey.
SDV303925Schedule Document: Ancient Monuments. 1971. Hamel Down Cross. The Schedule of Monuments. Unknown. 13/1/1971.
SDV303933Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1953. SX78SW13. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV303934Photograph: Unknown. 1983. Slide of the Hamel Down Cross. Slide.
SDV359352Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2016. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #53354 ]
SDV359353National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2016. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital.

Associated Monuments

MDV20786Related to: Barrow south-east of Hameldown Cross (Monument)
MDV20787Related to: Cairn south-east of Hameldown Cross (Monument)
MDV58860Related to: Cairn south-east of Hameldown Cross (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV8658 - Challacombe, Duchy Farms Survey

Date Last Edited:Jun 11 2021 4:13PM