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Prehistoric standing stone, medieval wayside cross and cross base and post-medieval guide post at Longstone

A Scheduled Monument in St. Mabyn, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.528 / 50°31'40"N

Longitude: -4.7375 / 4°44'14"W

OS Eastings: 206075.170013

OS Northings: 73376.662181

OS Grid: SX060733

Mapcode National: GBR N2.J0Y1

Mapcode Global: FRA 07ZN.L6D

Entry Name: Prehistoric standing stone, medieval wayside cross and cross base and post-medieval guide post at Longstone

Scheduled Date: 22 March 1932

Last Amended: 13 February 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010846

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26242

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Mabyn

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Mabyn

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The monument includes a prehistoric standing stone, a medieval wayside cross
and cross base, a post-medieval turnpike road guide post and a protective
margin around them, situated by a junction at Longstone where the main route
from Bodmin to Camelford is crossed by the road linking the parishes of St
Mabyn and Blisland in north Cornwall. The four items included in this monument
form a group on the verge in the south east angle of the crossroads. The
standing stone is located 5.6m WSW of the wayside cross; the guide post is
located 10.8m north east of the cross and the cross base is 5m SSE of the
guide post.
The prehistoric standing stone is known as the Longstone and has given its
name to the adjacent modern hamlet. It survives as a roughly fractured upright
granite slab, sub-rectangular in shape, standing 1.5m high and measuring 0.53m
wide by 0.19m thick at the base, and 0.65m wide by 0.1m thick at the top. It
is set in a modern stone and cement base, 0.1m high and measuring 1.05m
north-south by 0.92m east-west, with a slate plaque against its northern side.
The Longstone standing stone was recorded by 19th century antiquaries as a
`tall unhewn monumental pillar' standing at this hamlet until c.1850, when it
was removed by a local farmer and split to make gateposts. The fragment
contained within the monument is a portion identified as part of the former
standing stone which was erected at its present location in June 1975 by the
Wadebridge Old Cornwall Society. This event is marked by an inscribed modern
slate plaque affixed to the northern side of the stone's base.
The medieval wayside cross survives with a medieval granite round `wheel'
cross head and upper shaft, mounted on a modern granite lower shaft and base
stone. The head and shaft rise 1.84m high above the base. The head measures
0.42m in diameter and is 0.14m thick. Both principal faces are decorated. The
west principal face bears a relief equal limbed cross, the limbs having widely
expanded ends, with a round raised boss, 0.1m in diameter, at the centre of
the cross motif. A narrow perimeter bead extends between the limbs of the
cross motif. The east principal face bears a relief `Fleur de Lys' motif
within a narrow bead around the outer edge of the head. The Fleur de Lys motif
was a symbol of the Virgin Mary. The medieval upper shaft, integral with the
head, is 0.23m high and 0.33m wide by 0.14m thick. The shaft is cemented onto
the top of a modern lower shaft, measuring 1.19m high and 0.36m wide by 0.22m
thick, which in turn is set into the modern granite base stone, measuring
1.83m north-south by 1.2m east-west and set flush with the ground. The cross
is situated beside the crossroads on the main route linking the towns of
Bodmin and Camelford, both important administrative and market centres in the
medieval period. The junction marks the crossing of the route within the
parish from the east to the church at St Mabyn and the road to the
neighbouring parish of Blisland. In 1896, the historian Langdon records that
the cross head in this monument was fixed to the top of a wall at Penwine
Farm, 550m ENE of its present location. About 1956 the cross was moved from
the wall to the garden at Penwine Farm and in 1969 it was erected in its
present location on the modern lower shaft and base. The head is one of only
two bearing the fleur de lys motif, the other being located 4km to the
south-west at Washaway. This unusual motif is considered to have been the
chosen emblem of Bodmin priory, which was a major landowner in the vicinity
during the medieval period.
The medieval cross base survives as a roughly shaped rectangular granite slab
measuring 0.97m NNE-SSW by 0.83m WNW-ESE, lying flat on the ground from which
it rises up to 0.16m high. At the centre is a rectangular mortice to receive
the missing shaft; the mortice measures 0.27m NNE-SSW by 0.16m WNW-ESE. This
cross base was formerly located approximately 25m to the WSW, immediately
beside the crossroads, in its original position where it had once supported a
wayside cross marking this significant junction. In 1947, the base was moved
and built into a nearby hedgebank; subsequently it was moved to its present
position lying flat on the rough verge.
The post-medieval granite guide-post is situated 10.8m north east of the
wayside cross. It is visible as a square-section granite shaft, 1.4m high,
with sides 0.2m-0.22m wide, surmounted by a flat, square, granite slab whose
sides are 0.46m long and 0.19m thick. The side faces of the slab are incised
with the destinations along the four roads they face, as follows: to the
north: `Camelford'; to the east: `Blisland' and `Liskeard'; to the south:
`Bodmin', and to the west: `St Mabyn' and `Wadebridge'. A short iron stud with
a corroded thread on its tip projects vertically from the centre of the slab's
upper face. The guide post is situated 20m east of the crossroads itself,
beside the road to Blisland. This is one of a distinctive group of later 18th
and early 19th century guide posts of this design which occur on former
turnpike roads in north Cornwall and around the periphery of Bodmin Moor.
The metalled surface of the modern road passing north of the guide-post but
within the area of the protective margin, is excluded from the scheduling but
the ground beneath is included.
Both the medieval cross and the guide-post are also Listed Grade II.

MAP EXTRACT
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

Standing stones are prehistoric ritual or ceremonial monuments with dates
ranging from the Late Neolithic to the end of the Bronze Age for the few
excavated examples. They comprise single or paired upright orthostatic slabs,
ranging from under lm to over 6m high where still erect. They are often
conspicuously sited and close to other contemporary monument classes. They can
be accompanied by various features: many occur in or on the edge of round
barrows, and where excavated, associated subsurface features have included
stone cists, stone settings, and various pits and hollows filled in with earth
containing human bone, cremations, charcoal, flints, pots and pot sherds.
Similar deposits have been found in excavated sockets for standing stones,
which range considerably in depth. Several standing stones also bear cup and
ring marks. Standing stones may have functioned as markers for routeways,
territories, graves, or meeting points, but their accompanying features show
they also bore a ritual function and that they form one of several ritual
monument classes of their period that often contain a deposit of cremation and
domestic debris as an integral component. No national survey of standing
stones has been undertaken, and estimates range from 50 to 250 extant
examples, widely distributed throughout England but with concentrations in
Cornwall, the North Yorkshire Moors, Cumbria, Derbyshire and the Cotswolds.
Standing stones are important as nationally rare monuments, with a high
longevity and demonstrating the diversity of ritual practices in the Late
Neolithic and Bronze Age. Consequently all undisturbed standing stones and
those which represent the main range of types and locations would normally be
considered to be of national importance.

The route-marking and ritual functions pertaining to standing stones during
the prehistoric period may be paralleled on a general level much later by the
wayside cross, 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
pilgrimages.
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 with 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 whose
faces various forms of cross or related designs were carved in relief or
incised. 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 in the North York Moors group. Most wayside crosses have either a
simple socketed base or show no evidence for a 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 surviving as earth-fast
monuments, except those which are extremely damaged and removed from their
original locations, are considered worthy of protection.
The way-marking function of medieval wayside crosses was continued into the
post-medieval period by a variety of guide posts, signs and milestones. Guide
posts receive mention from the 16th and 17th centuries, and could be required
to be erected following an Act of Parliament in 1697. A rapid increase in the
number of guide posts corresponds with the major improvements to the road
network and the rise in road traffic resulting from the Turnpike Acts, whereby
routes were improved and maintained by groups of trustees, financing the
operations from tolls charged on the road users. From a slow start, most
Turnpike Acts were passed during the period 1750 to 1820, eventually covering
almost one-fifth of the public highway network of the time. The street
furniture, including guide posts, resulting from these Acts often survive
alongside modern roads and display distinctive features and designs, varying
from one Turnpike Trust to another.
The standing stone, wayside cross and cross base and guide post contained in
this monument provides a rare close-grouping of the successive forms of
waymarker characteristic of the prehistoric, medieval and post-medieval
periods. The presence of the standing stone, cross base and guide post at or
near their original positions also illustrates well the extreme longevity of
many routes still in use.
The original head and upper shaft of the wayside cross have survived well as
one of only two known examples of a wheel head cross bearing a Fleur de Lys
motif, also unusual in that its historical emblematic significance is known.
The location of the cross and cross base by the junction between a major
regional route and a local route, also serving as a parish church path,
demonstrates well the major roles of medieval wayside crosses. The presence
nearby of the post-medieval guide-post shows clearly the secular development
of way-markers following the upheavals in religious attitudes during the 16th
century.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of North Cornwall, (1992)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of North Cornwall, (1992)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of North Cornwall, (1992)
Other
consulted 1994, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 17009,
consulted 1994, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 17010,
consulted 1994, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 17010.01,
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 0673
Source Date:
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 33/43/part 53; Pathfinder 1364
Source Date: 1989
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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