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Medieval cross base at St Ewe

A Scheduled Monument in St. Ewe, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.2799 / 50°16'47"N

Longitude: -4.8396 / 4°50'22"W

OS Eastings: 197779.949

OS Northings: 46073.3165

OS Grid: SW977460

Mapcode National: GBR ZT.SJ1L

Mapcode Global: FRA 08R9.8C1

Entry Name: Medieval cross base at St Ewe

Scheduled Date: 7 February 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010849

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24307

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Ewe

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Ewe

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross base and a protective margin
around it, situated by the side of the road at the centre of St Ewe in
southern central Cornwall. The cross base is surmounted by a post-medieval
sundial shaft and stands on a large composite basal structure. Both the cross
base and the sundial shaft are Listed Grade II.
The cross base survives as a square granite block supporting the post-medieval
sundial shaft and set on a substantial post-medieval composite stepped base;
the overall structure including the cross base slab measures 2.36m in height.
The cross base measures 0.71m north-south by 0.72m east-west and is 0.3m high.
The upper edges have a chamfer 0.06m wide. At the centre of the upper surface
is a near-square socket measuring 0.28m north-south by 0.27m east-west.
The cross base remains in the same location as indicated by 19th century
records; it appears here on the 1840 tithe map of St Ewe, and the historian
Langdon in 1896 describes it as forming part of a two-stepped base supporting
the lower part of a cross-shaft.
Subsequent to these records, the cross base, while remaining in situ, has been
reused to support a post-medieval sundial whose square section shaft and a
cuboid head are cut from a single block of granite. The sundial rises 1.12m
high above the base. The head is 0.23m high and 0.36m wide by 0.32m thick, the
upper surface incised with a narrow groove 0.05m within the outer edge along
all four sides and a 0.05m diameter filled hole at each corner, originally for
securement of the missing brass sundial. The outer edges of the head project
0.03m beyond the sundial shaft. The square section shaft is 0.89m high and
0.29m wide by 0.25m thick, set in the socket of the medieval cross-base.
The cross base is set on top of an unusually large composite, two-stepped
basal structure. The upper surface of this structure, around the cross base,
consists of slate and quartz cobbles in cement, sloping outwards to a kerb of
large granite blocks. This kerb forms the edge of the upper step, measuring
2.62m north-south by 2.8m east-west and is 0.33m high. The lower step
measures 3.5m north-south by 2.95m east-west and is 0.56m high. This step is
constructed of large granite blocks whose underlying rubble has been faced by
a recent wall of mortared slate masonry. On the west side of this composite
base, a mounting block of three steps formed by three large granite blocks
rises from the north west corner to the cobbled upper surface.
The cross-base is situated to the north of the churchyard wall in St Ewe, at
the focus of the church paths within the parish, one of which, at Beacon
Cross, 800m to the south east, is marked by another wayside cross.
The surfaces of the modern metalled road north of the cross base and of the
tracks to the east, south and west of the cross base, which are 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.

This medieval cross-base is of unusual design and survives in its original
location at the focus of parish church paths. Together with the marking of one
of those church paths by another surviving medieval cross, this cross base
demonstrates well the role of wayside crosses, despite the loss of its shaft
and head. The reuse of the base as a support for the post-medieval sundial
shows one form of the secular post-medieval development of wayside and
village focal points.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
consulted 1994, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 24274,
p.99; Crosses & cross sites No.3, Sheppard, P, Parochial Checklist Of Antiquities; Parish Of St Ewe, (1967)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 94/SX 04; Mevagissey and Tregony
Source Date: 1984

Source: Historic England

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