Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Standing cross in St Dennis churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in St. Dennis, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.3887 / 50°23'19"N

Longitude: -4.8843 / 4°53'3"W

OS Eastings: 195070.915001

OS Northings: 58292.900001

OS Grid: SW950582

Mapcode National: GBR ZQ.XQ8X

Mapcode Global: FRA 08N0.NZ3

Entry Name: Standing cross in St Dennis churchyard

Scheduled Date: 12 September 1974

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1003115

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 840

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Dennis

Built-Up Area: St Dennis

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Dennis

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a standing cross, situated in the churchyard of St Dennis, to the south of the church porch. The cross survives as a decorated wheel-head and shaft set into a circular base. The base measures 0.9m in diameter and 0.3m high, and the cross stands to 2m high overall. All four sides of the shaft are highly ornamented, and the head is a more unusual horseshoe shape. It was recorded by Langdon in 1896 as an ornamented Celtic cross, and Pearce suggested it provided further evidence for the presence of a pre-Saxon graveyard at St Dennis.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-429989

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone, mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD). Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm Sunday. Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft often set directly in the ground without a base. Standing crosses vary considerably in form and decoration but several regional types have been identified. The
Cornish crosses form one such group. The commonest type includes a round, or `wheel', head on the faces of which various forms of cross were carved. The design was sometimes supplemented with a relief figure of Christ. Less common forms include the `Latin' cross, where the cross-head itself is shaped within the arms of an unenclosed cross and, much rarer, the simple slab with a low-relief cross on both faces. Over 400 crosses of all types are recorded in Cornwall. The standing cross in St Dennis churchyard is highly decorated, of unusual form, apparently in-situ and seems to be within an early graveyard all adding to its historical and archaeological significance.

Source: Historic England

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