Ancient Monuments

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Round, medieval chapel, burial ground and standing cross 60m south east of Merthyr Uny House

A Scheduled Monument in Wendron, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1194 / 50°7'9"N

Longitude: -5.2139 / 5°12'49"W

OS Eastings: 170353.056093

OS Northings: 29316.942566

OS Grid: SW703293

Mapcode National: GBR Z4.YMHG

Mapcode Global: VH134.L809

Entry Name: Round, medieval chapel, burial ground and standing cross 60m south east of Merthyr Uny House

Scheduled Date: 22 March 1932

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1004645

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 162 B-C

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Wendron

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Wendron

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a round, a medieval chapel dedicated to St Uny, a burial ground and a standing cross situated on a ridge, overlooking the upper valley of the Helford River. The round and burial ground survive as an oval enclosure measuring up to 220m long by 110m wide. It is defined by a stone-faced earth bank up to 3.7m high with a narrow entrance to the north west and a buried outer ditch, cut slightly by a road. Within the enclosure the chapel survives as a small rectangular, roofless structure measuring 9m long by 6m wide internally. It is defined by low coursed rubble walls with an entrance to the west. On the south west side of the enclosure is a standing cross which survives as a decorated wheel-head and shaft standing up to 1.7m high. On both faces the head has a central boss and four depressions to define the cross. There are small bosses above some neck projections and bosses to the front and rear of the shaft. All four sides of the shaft are decorated with a pattern of irregular dots and lines in panels. The cross is pre-Norman in date.

Merther Euny was first recorded as a chapel in 1302 and it went out of use at the Reformation. By 1745 it was recorded as being in ruins, but the tower was still standing. The tower was removed in around 1820. During the 19th century there was a failed attempt to build a Methodist chapel on the site, of which all traces were removed in 1918. The cross was recorded by Langdon in 1896. He reported that it had been restored in 1886 when several human bones and oak coffins were found. Partial excavations by Thomas in 1968 revealed the burial ground to be on the site of an earlier round which had been occupied from the 1st century BC until the 2nd century AD. The surrounding bank and ditch had been re-used and post holes from at least two hut circles were identified. The round fell into disuse until around 1000 when it appears it was used as a burial ground with evidence in the form of an extensive series of aligned graves. There was no evidence for any accompanying chapel of this date. The existing chapel was built in around 1100 and continued in use with modifications until the 15th century. Several cist graves were associated with this medieval phase. The position of a possible backfilled holy well was also identified.

The chapel is Listed Grade II (66383).

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-427112 and 427115

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Rounds are small usually circular or oval embanked enclosures, one of a range of settlement types dating to between the later Iron Age and the early post-Roman period. They have a single earth and rubble bank and an outer ditch, with one entrance breaking the circuit. Excavations have produced drystone supporting walls within the bank, paved or cobbled entrance ways, post built gate structures, and remains of timber, turf or stone built houses. Rounds are confined in England to south west Devon and especially Cornwall.

A medieval chapel is a building, usually rectangular, containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate for Christian worship in the pre- Reformation period. Chapels were built between the 12th and 17th centuries as subsidiary places of worship. Some chapels possessed burial grounds. When chapels were abandoned they were often left largely undisturbed and thus retain important information about the nature and date of their use up to their abandonment.

A standing cross is a free standing upright structure mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD). In churchyards they served as stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm Sunday. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Cornish crosses form one specific group. The commonest type includes a round, or `wheel', head on the faces of which various forms of cross were carved. Despite partial excavation, the round, medieval chapel, burial ground and standing cross 60m south east of Merthyr Uny House has already produced rare and important information regarding it use, function, re-use and longevity and will contain still more archaeological and environmental evidence regarding its use and landscape context. The cross is also a particularly well preserved, early and rare example.

Source: Historic England

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