Browse crosses

   

Location:  On the North side of the old A30, about one mile to the West of Sticklepath, at the junction of the lane that leads to Bude Farm.

O/S Grid Ref:  SX/63150/94773          Longitude/Latitude (Degrees+/-):  -3.94069/50.73639

Map location: Click here to view map.

Purpose:  Venville Boundary Stone.

Size:  The stone is 4 feet 1 inch (1.25 metres) tall, 1 foot 4 inches (0.41 metres) wide at the bottom, tapering to 10 inches (0.26 metres) at the top. 7˝ inches (0.19 metres) in depth.

Information:  This stone is thought to have been a boundary stone to mark the Venville Bounds of Belstone and Sampford Courtenay in a similar manner to the Sticklepath (Ladywell) Cross, situated about half a mile to the south east of this stone.  This stone appears to be undamaged except at the top, which is irregular and shows signs of having been broken off relatively recently.  Although the markings on the stone are no longer very clear, they originally included a St. Andrew's Cross.  The stone is also of a very similar style to that of the  Sourton Green Cross, on the village green below the Church. 

Unfortunately, the markings on this cross are not as clear as those on the Sourton Green Cross. The only ones that are clearly visible are on the Southern, roadside, face. Here, a seven pointed asterisk shape is incised about half way down the stone. There is another line lower down on this face, but I couldn’t, at first, determine its significance.

Research shows that, originally, there were markings on three faces of this cross but, with the exception of those set out above, they appear to have weathered or faded away over the years. The original markings on each face were described as follows:

Northern Face: This face originally contained the clearest engravings, which extended from the top to the bottom of the stone. Starting from the top, there was a circle 1˝ inches in diameter, of which the upper arc was missing due to a previous fracture of the top of the stone. This was followed by another circle of the same size and a third circle, this latter being rather larger at 11 inches in diameter. At the bottom was a St. Andrew’s Cross, the arms of which used the full width of the face and with the shaft reaching almost to the base of the stone.
Eastern Face: This showed a number of lines with a faint resemblance to an imperfect human figure, with a halo around its head. This consisted of a segment of a circle, convex surface uppermost, towards the top of the stone (halo). A few inches below this was a circle of 5 inches in diameter (head), followed by an oval (body), 7 inches long and with the upper portion obliterated. Two waved lines (legs) appeared from the bottom of the oval, similar in shape but a mirror image of each other. These both terminated at each edge of the stone, about 12 inches above the ground.
Southern Face: No markings were recorded for the top half of the stone. The lower half had three semicircles, with the curved sides adjacent to and equidistant from each other; Two side by side and the third above.
Western Face: No markings were recorded for this face. It is not known if it has always been plain or if there were some markings, which had already faded away before the significance of this stone was realised.
Taking the above description into account and the clarity of the incised asterisk, it is now obvious this must be a fairly recent addition to the stone. However, the lower line that can be seen on the same face may well be part of one of the semicircles described above.

Mr Spence Bate recorded in 1874 that the stone was 4 feet 6 inches high and that it had been broken off at the top. My measurement is now 4 feet 1 inch, some 5 inches shorter, and the top shows signs of a relatively recent fracture. This would indicate that it has been further damaged within the last 125 years.

Ruth St. Leger-Gordon, in her book 'The Witchcraft and Folklore of Dartmoor', refers to this stone as a menhir with the name of 'Honest Man'.  She goes on to two proffer two legends as to how the stone might have acquired it's name.  The first was that in the old days a sailor was following the Mariner's Way in order that he might find work on a ship in North Devon when he stopped for refreshment at the Sticklepath inn.  Setting off on his journey again, and suffering somewhat from his drink, he became disorientated after ascending the hill outside the village.  Peering around in the darkness, he saw what he thought was a figure ahead and ran up and embraced it as his saviour, asking 'Be you an honest man?', and so the stone was named.

The other legend relates how a traveller was set upon by highwaymen at this spot and relieved of his purse.  Fortunately for him, at the very same moment a good Samaritan rode up on his horse, retrieved his purse, saw off the thieves and rendered first aid to him.  The unknown good Samaritan then just rode off without revealing his identity.  The grateful traveller decided that he would erect this stone on the spot in commemoration of 'so honest a man'.

tongue_end_cross.jpg (151365 bytes)About ˝ mile to the west of the Bude Lane Cross, there is a short length of stone sitting on the grass verge on the southern side of the road at Tongue End, Belstone (SX62327/94902).  This is at the junction where the road to Belstone branches off from the Okehampton to Sticklepath road.  It is thought that this might originally have been the section of a cross which once stood near this spot.  It is well set in the ground and the top looks as though it has been broken off at some point in the past.  I have been unable to obtain any clear evidence to confirm that it was originally a cross, but it is recorded in the Devon & Dartmoor Heritage Gateway (ref: MDV6903) website as a possible cross shaft.  In more recent years, the stone has been adopted as a boundary stone for the parish of Sticklepath.  Although the community of Sticklepath has been in existence since at least the 11th century, it was only granted parish status in its own right in 1987.  One face of the stone has been engraved with the letters 'S P' (Sticklepath Parish) within a marked square but it can be seen that this a modern addition to the stone, which probably happened at some point shortly after 1987.