There are many stone crosses in and around Dartmoor. Those found out on the open moorland are probably the most evocative. Some of these were ‘guide crosses‘. These marked the path of ancient tracks that traversed the moor; long before there were any roads. These ancient tracks linked the monasteries and communities that were dotted around the moorland fringe.
Other crosses were used as boundary posts; marking the extent of the (primarily) monastic estates. Crosses were a good choice of boundary marker, as in the 1300 s a cross was considered to be on consecrated ground and hence the peasantry would not risk eternal damnation by moving them!
In the first century A.D., there were few churches and ‘preaching crosses’ were erected at convenient points in and between communities. These were places where the faithful would meet to hear preachers and to pray. Some of these crosses are still to be found today, designated ‘village’ or ‘wayside’ crosses.
This gallery includes a selection of the more complete and attractive crosses.
Click on any image to open the image viewer. Hover over the image to see the caption with the name of the cross and its OS grid reference.
(Recommended reading: ‘Dartmoor Stone Crosses‘. Bill Harrison, 2001. Devon Books, Tiverton).