The Nodden Cross, or the King Way Cross of Nodden Moor, has had quite a journey from being orginally spotted by an eagle-eyed group of ramblers; having a suitable socket created for it; Royal approval in the form of HRH Prince Charles ‘unveiling’ the Cross at the High Moorland Visitor Centre, Princetown; to being finally placed back at its rightful home.
Here Ranger Rob Taylor recounts that final morning. of its journey.
It was a damp and misty morning when we all met at the Fox and Hounds car park in Lydford to re-site the King Way Cross in its rightful home. We had a range of tools for the job as lifting and then siting a granite cross back into position is no easy task. So the lifting equipment on the back of the flat bed truck was a welcome sight!
After initial introductions, we moved up onto the moor and headed towards the site, making our way northwards between the Corn Ditch and the River Lyd towards the area in the wall that was to be the King Way Cross’ new home. After a little tow from the Ranger vehicle we were able to get the truck alongside the wall, which would enable us to site it back into the ground with minimal manual lifting.
We set to with spades and buckets, and half an hour later after some astute measuring from our Conservation Works manager, we were able to sink the granite socket into the ground. This socket was to hold the granite cross in place, with the aim of giving it a solid base to sit in, thus preventing it from falling over in the future.
We lifted the cross in place and immediately, as is nearly always the case, found we needed to do a little tinkering with the socket to enable the cross to sit upright and true. After a few handfuls of soil and stones were put back in, the cross sat back in its socket really well, and we were able to ensure it stayed in place by packing around it with some of the earth and stone that was removed initially. To finish off we put turf back around the top of the socket, to hopefully encourage re-growth around the newly re-established cross.
By the time we had finished the mist and rain had really rolled in shrouding the whole area in the classic Dartmoor damp fog that we all know and have grown to love. It was a fitting end to the job really, as from my point of view the weather kind of complemented the finished article. A classic Dartmoor feature sitting in its natural landscape, only to be glimpsed from a distance sporadically through the ever thickening mist.
I enjoyed being able to take part in the final re-siting of the King Way Cross. It was a pleasure meeting Ron and his team of ramblers, and it amazes me still that the detail was spotted quite by chance on an outing on the moor. What makes this cross more interesting is not only its type, and rarity on Dartmoor let alone the Southwest, but the whole story from start to finish. From the eagle eyed walker who first spotted it sticking out of the ground and the craftsmanship, care and attention taken in restoring it, to an appreciative Royal eye cast over it, and back to the same eagle eyed walker seeing it finally returned to its rightful place on the King Way.