By: Blonde Two
Many walkers encounter stone crosses on their expeditions across Dartmoor but not all of them are over seven feet high (not the walkers, the crosses silly).
Nun’s (originally Siwards/Sywards) cross is a popular landmark on walks out of Princetown and has been a calling point on many Two Blondes adventures. According to Crossings (a helpful man who wrote a book about Dartmoor in 1909), it has the distinction of having the earliest mention in historical documents of all of the Dartmoor crosses; being listed in a 1240 forest bounds document as Crucem Sywardi.
Nun’s cross is, however likely to be even older than that and could have formed part of the way markers for the Abbot’s Way between the abbeys at Tavistock and Buckfast. This route is still marked in parts on the OS map today but walker beware, a green line on a Dartmoor map does not necessarily mean a nice easy path to follow on the ground. If you are planning to venture south beyond Plym Ford, you would be wise to take your compass.
The Two Blondes have never seen any nuns in the vicinity of the cross but this is probably because this name does not have anything to do with kind ladies dressed in unusual walking gear. Arguments about the actual meaning of this, more recent, name have been around for a while. Even the OS couldn’t make up their minds which name to use and put both on the map. If you want to find out more try this link http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/nuns_cross.htm