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St Erth Churchtown cross

A Scheduled Monument in St. Erth, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1655 / 50°9'55"N

Longitude: -5.431 / 5°25'51"W

OS Eastings: 155071.02

OS Northings: 35130.756

OS Grid: SW550351

Mapcode National: GBR DXZ7.M2Y

Mapcode Global: VH12T.T36G

Entry Name: St Erth Churchtown cross

Scheduled Date: 22 March 1932

Last Amended: 3 January 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010845

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26241

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Erth

Built-Up Area: St Erth

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Erth

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross and a protective margin around
it at the main crossroads in the centre of St Erth village in west Cornwall.
The cross survives as an upright granite shaft and head set in a rectangular
granite base stone. The overall height of the cross is 2.68m. The head is
rectangular; its north and south principal faces are slightly wider at the top
with the sides tapering inwards towards the shaft. The head is 0.58m high and
up to 0.48m wide by 0.36m thick. Each principal face is decorated. The south
principal face bears a relief figure of Christ with outstretched arms within a
shallow recess framed by a broad bead around the perimeter of the head. The
north principal face bears a relief Latin cross with slightly splayed ends to
the limbs, also set within a broad perimeter bead except beyond the lower edge
of the recess which extends flush with the shaft below. The head projects
0.05m beyond the face of the shaft along the southern face and eastern side
only. The shaft is 1.26m high and tapers slightly to the base, from 0.39m wide
by 0.31m thick at the neck to 0.37m wide by 0.27m thick at the base. Each
corner of the shaft has a chamfer 0.08m wide. The shaft is cemented into a
rectangular base stone measuring 1.16m east-west by 0.94m north-south and
0.42m high. The upper corners of the base are rounded and a curved incised
line delineates each corner. On the south face of the base, a worn modern
inscription of capital letter inserts reads: `This site is dedicated to the
parishioners of St Erth and entrusted to their care by John Lord St Levan Lord
of the Manor of Treloweth in this parish 1891'.
The St Erth cross is set slightly back from the north west angle of the main
staggered cross-roads in the centre of St Erth village, at the point where the
route from the north of the parish to the church is crossed by an east-west
route heading for the bridging point of the River Hayle, immediately west of
the village. There are no records that this cross has ever been moved from its
present position, where it was illustrated by the historian Blight in 1872. At
that time it was contained within the grounds of a Wesleyan meeting house and
the lowermost 0.72m of the shaft and base were embedded in a mound of earth.
In 1891 the boundary wall of the meeting house was set back and the earth
mound removed, without disturbing the cross itself; the inscription on the
south face of the cross records the completion of these works and the transfer
of responsibility for the cross to the parishioners of St Erth by Lord St
The modern cemented cobble and concrete surfaces surrounding the cross base
and the surface of the metalled road passing east of the cross but within the
area of the protective margin, are excluded from the scheduling but the ground
beneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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 having a more specifically religious
function, including those providing access to religious sites for parishioners
and funeral processions, or marking long-distance routes frequented on
Over 350 wayside crosses are known nationally, concentrated in south west
England throughout Cornwall and on Dartmoor where they form the commonest type
of stone cross. A small group also occurs on the North York Moors. Relatively
few examples have been recorded elsewhere and these are generally confined to
remote moorland locations.
Outside Cornwall almost all wayside crosses take the form of a `Latin' cross,
in which the cross-head itself is shaped within the projecting arms of an
unenclosed cross. In Cornwall wayside crosses vary considerably in form and
decoration. The commonest type includes a round, or `wheel', head on the faces
of which various forms of cross or related designs were carved in relief or
incised, the spaces between the cross arms possibly pierced. The design was
sometimes supplemented with a relief figure of Christ and the shaft might bear
decorative panels and motifs. Less common forms in Cornwall include the
`Latin' cross and, much rarer, the simple slab with a low relief cross on both
faces. Rare examples of wheel-head and slab-form crosses also occur within the
North York Moors group. Most wayside crosses have either a simple socketed
base or show no evidence for a separate base at all.
Wayside crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval
religious customs and sculptural traditions and to our knowledge of medieval
routeways and settlement patterns. All wayside crosses which survive as earth-
fast monuments, except those which are extremely damaged and removed from
their original locations, are considered worthy of protection.

The medieval wayside cross at St Erth has survived well as an unusually large
cross displaying a unique form and with a rare motif on each face of the head.
The cross remains at its original position at the focus of the village and as
a marker on one of the routes through the parish to the church path where it
is crossed by an east-west route to the important bridging point to the west,
demonstrating well the major role of wayside crosses and the longevity of many
routes still in use.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 33/43/part 53; Pathfinder 1364
Source Date: 1989

Source: Historic England

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