Ancient Monuments

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Wayside cross 25m east of the house of Tonacombe

A Scheduled Monument in Morwenstow, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.9022 / 50°54'7"N

Longitude: -4.5478 / 4°32'51"W

OS Eastings: 220950.348378

OS Northings: 114506.683494

OS Grid: SS209145

Mapcode National: GBR K2.RFRH

Mapcode Global: FRA 16CQ.837

Entry Name: Wayside cross 25m east of the house of Tonacombe

Scheduled Date: 8 October 1934

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006628

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 244

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Morwenstow

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Morwenstow

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a wayside cross, situated in the grounds of Tonacombe and known locally as the 'Red Cross Stone'. The cross survives as a decorated wheel-headed cross with a rectangular section shaft, standing to a height of approximately 1.6m. The cross head is decorated with an incised cross-crosslet and is made of Elvan rather than the more usual granite. The cross was found inverted and being used as a rubbing post in a nearby field and moved to its present site in 1918.

The cross is Listed Grade II*.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-32238

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Wayside crosses are one of several types of Christian cross erected during the medieval period, mostly from the 9th to 15th centuries AD. In addition to serving the function of reiterating and reinforcing the Christian faith amongst those who passed the cross and of reassuring the traveller, wayside crosses often fulfilled a role as waymarkers, especially in difficult and otherwise unmarked terrain. The crosses might be on regularly used routes linking ordinary settlements or on routes which might have a more specifically religious function, including providing access to religious sites for parishioners and funeral processions. Wayside crosses vary considerably in form and decoration but several regional types have been identified. The Cornish wayside 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. Wayside crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval routeways, settlement patterns and the development of sculptural traditions and their survival is somewhat differential because of periods of religious turbulence during the Reformation when many were subject to damage or partial destruction by iconoclasts. Despite having been moved, the wayside cross 25m east of the house of Tonacombe survives well and is a type of stone rarely used for crosses in Cornwall and of a decorative type unique in Cornwall and found mainly on the borders of Dartmoor in Devon, it is also thought to be the most northerly known location of Cornish-type crosses.

Source: Historic England

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