Browse crosses

Location On the west side of the road between Beatland Corner and Cadover Bridge, about 200 yards north of the road junction which branches off to Shaugh prior.

O/S Grid Ref: SX/55237/63472       Longitude/Latitude (Degrees+/-):  -4.04055/50.45317

Map location: Click here to view map.

Purpose:  Waymarker on the Plympton Priory to Tavistock Abbey track.

Size:  5 feet 7 inches (1.70 metres) tall. 1 foot 10 inches (0.56 metres) across the arms.

Information:  This is another case of the top of an ancient cross having been mounted on a relatively modern replacement shaft. William Crossing wrote, in his 1902 book ‘The Ancient Stone Crosses of Dartmoor’, that the medieval section of cross was found in use as the bottom stone of a stile, at nearby Shaden Brake.  It was this discovery that led to its alternative name of Shaden Brake Cross, by which is it sometimes locally referred. Shortly after, it was set up in its present position as a very short cross, of about 3 feet in height. Crossing estimated, from its proportions, that it would have originally been about 6 to 7 feet tall.

shaden_moor.jpg (58926 bytes)It is understood that, sometime around 1915, a replacement shaft was made for the cross and it is this shaft that can be seen in the photo opposite. However good intentioned this act might have been, the two sections were clearly mismatched. The replacement shaft was carefully shaped and is nowhere near as rugged as that on the ancient cross. Although both sections were of the same depth, 9 inches (0.23 metres), the original piece of shaft was wider at 15 inches (0.38 metres) than the 13 inches (0.33 metres) of its modern counterpart. The overall height of the cross, with this shaft was 7 feet (2.13 metres).

The original section of cross measures 3 feet (0.92 metres) tall. The arms appear rather short and are set quite close to the top of the head, in comparison to the size of the shaft. The arms, head and shaft are square in section and very rugged in appearance. Currently, the cross does not possess a socket stone and it has been set into a number of stones surrounding its base.

shaden_side.jpg (82238 bytes)As part of the 50th anniversary of the designation of Dartmoor as a National Park, the Dartmoor Trust offered to fund the cost of another replacement shaft. This one is deliberately more rugged in character and as can be seen in the main photograph above, is a much closer match to the style of the head than its predecessor. The new shaft, which measures 2 feet 8 inches (0.81 metres) high, is 1 foot 4 inches (0.41 metres) wide and 9 inches (0.23 metres) deep. The work was undertaken by the DNP Conservation Works Team and the resulting monument unveiled at a small ceremony on 20th December 2001.  The side on view of the current cross shows that the depth of both sections of the shaft narrow at the point where they join, although this is not visible from eith the front or rear views of the cross.

William Crossing suggested that the cross could once have fitted the Beatland Corner Socket Stone. The size and roughly shaped nature of the original shaft would appear to be a very good match for this socket stone. Even though the two are now about ¾ mile apart, there are other instances on the moor where crosses have been moved greater distances. In addition, the socket stone is well sited for the monks of Plympton Priory, on their travels to the outlying parishes of Meavy and Sampford Spiney and on to Tavistock Abbey. This site would have marked the point where they would turn off the main track when visiting Shaugh Prior  on the way.

The site of this cross on Shaden Moor, just ½ mile to the north east of Shaugh Prior, is a nice quiet spot with splendid views all around. Looking northwards is the imposing mound of Sheeps Tor, with Hare Tor beyond and the TV mast at North Hessary Tor breaking the skyline. The south west gives a wonderful view of Plymouth Sound and makes it appear a lot closer than it actually is.