Puper's Cross

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Location: Incised into the south west facing rock on the main stack of Middle Pupers.

O/S Grid Ref: SX/67287/67370       Longitude/Latitude (Degrees+/-):  -3.87229/50.49106

Map location: Click here to view map.

Purpose: A Christogram incised into the rock face.

Size: The cross measures 2 inches (5 Centimetres) in height and 2 inches (5 Centimetres) across the width of its arms.

Information: On the south west face of the main rock at Middle Pupers, and partly hidden by an overhung rock above, is the inscription 'IHS' with an incised cross above the letter 'H'. 

pupers_rock.jpg (121382 bytes)In the ancient world of medieval Western Europe this was a Christogram, with the letters, Iota (I), Eta (H) and Sigma (S) representing the first three letters of 'Jesus' in the Greek alphabet.  Another interpretation was that the three letters stand for 'Iesus Hominum Salvator' (Jesus, Saviour of Men) in Latin, but this has since proved to be inaccurate. The Latin symbol now has a 'V' below the IHS to represent 'In Hoc Signo Vinces' interpreted as: 'In This Sign You Will Conquer'. The symbol, in one form or other, has been used throughout the Latin speaking world since the seventh century and the first use of it in an English document dates from the fourteenth century.  The cross above the 'H' forms an integral part of the symbol.

The word 'Pupers' is believed to have derived from 'Pipers'.  An ancient Dartmoor tradition has it that where people people were caught dancing or playing music on a Sunday they would be turned to stone.  Three dancers were supposedly caught on Puper's Hill and now form the rocks of Outer, Middle and Inner Pupers.  The Piper was also caught and he was turned into the Boundary Stone we now know as Kit's Stone or Little Man (Grid Ref: SX677/671).  This tradition, of turning revellers into stone on the Sabbath, also applies to the Dancers and the Nine Maidens Stone Circles.