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Mawgan Cross early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross shaft

A Scheduled Monument in Mawgan-in-Meneage, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.0796 / 50°4'46"N

Longitude: -5.2061 / 5°12'22"W

OS Eastings: 170715.558

OS Northings: 24867.658

OS Grid: SW707248

Mapcode National: GBR Z5.13K3

Mapcode Global: VH13B.Q82B

Entry Name: Mawgan Cross early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross shaft

Scheduled Date: 22 March 1932

Last Amended: 3 January 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010852

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24310

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Mawgan-in-Meneage

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Mawgan-in-Meneage

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross
shaft, known as the Mawgan Cross, and a protective margin around it, situated
at a road junction at Mawgan, near Helston at the northern end of the Lizard
peninsula in south west Cornwall. The Mawgan Cross survives as an upright
granite shaft rising 1.84m high. The rectangular-section shaft tapers from
0.48m wide by 0.44m thick at the base to 0.31m wide and 0.2m thick at the
top, the broader faces orientated to the north west and south east. The north
west face bears a deeply incised inscription which characterises the origin of
the Mawgan Cross as an early Christian memorial stone.
The inscription is in two parallel lines running down the lower 1.28m of the
shaft. The inscription is in Latin, incised in an early medieval insular form
of script derived from Roman style capitals, and reads `CNEGUMI FILI GENAIUS'
which translates as `(the stone) of Cnegumus, son of Genaius'. The style of
the lettering and the phrasing of the inscription have been considered to
indicate a seventh-tenth century date. Above the inscription is a row of three
incised stylised letters, written across the face and arranged one above the
other. The upper and lower letters are versions of the religiously symbolic
Greek letters `alpha' and `omega' respectively. The central letter is the
letter `M', which has been considered to represent `Maria'.
The upper end-face of the memorial stone bears a square-section mortice to
receive a missing cross head. Early Christian memorial stones were
free-standing slabs lacking a distinct or separate carved head. The insertion
of the mortice for the head on this slab reflects a later adaptation of the
stone for a wayside cross. On the south east principal face a modern Ordnance
Survey bench mark has been incised 0.33m above the base of the shaft.
The Mawgan Cross is situated on a kerbed grass verge in Mawgan village at the
intersection of three roads and 320m south west of Mawgan church. While the
route-junction is of relevance to the stone's function as a wayside cross, a
study of the boundaries in this parish have shown that the cross also stands
on the line of a dominant curving boundary, now preserved in field boundaries
and the courses of roads, which encircles the church and its immediately
associated settlement at Mawgan. Such a boundary has been proposed as a rare
Cornish example of an early medieval outer ecclesiastical boundary, better
known from Welsh and Irish sources, and which would be broadly contemporary
with the memorial stone function of the monument. As a wayside cross, the
monument stands on the junction of the routes to the church and settlement of
Mawgan from the north and west, the main links of the settlement with the rest
of Cornwall around the headwaters of the Helford estuary.
The inscription on this cross has attracted frequent reference by most of the
antiquaries describing monuments in Cornwall from the mid-18th century onwards
and due to its unusual combination of features, it receives mention in most
national studies of early Christian memorial stones.
The surface of the modern metalled road passing north west of the Mawgan Cross
but within the area of the protective margin is 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

Early Christian memorial stones are inscribed free-standing stones
commemorating named individuals and dating to the early medieval period (c.AD
400-1100). The stones are erect, roughly dressed or undressed slabs, bearing
incised inscriptions, usually set in one or more vertical lines down one face
of the slab, although in four examples the text runs horizontally across the
slab. All except two recorded texts are in Latin and, depending on their date,
may be inscribed in a script of Romanised capitals or an insular form of lower
case lettering called miniscules, or a mixture of the two. Six stones also
have inscriptions in an Irish script called ogham. Most inscriptions are
simple, bearing a personal name and often stating a family relationship, such
as `filii' (son of), to another personal name. Fourteen stones contain
elements of the simple inscriptions within a longer, complex inscriptive
formula, often including the phrase `hic iacet' (here lies). Additional
decoration is found on very few stones and usually comprises a cross within a
circle. Early examples, prior to the eighth century AD, may bear an early
Christian symbol called a Chi Rho monogram, compounding the first two Greek
letters of the name `Christ'.
Early Christian memorial stones are largely restricted to areas which retained
Celtic traditions during the early medieval period, with at least 139 recorded
from Wales. In England, they are almost entirely confined to the south-west
peninsula; of the 56 recorded examples, 37 occur in Cornwall, 11 in Devon, a
group of 5 in Dorset, and single examples in Somerset, Hampshire and
Shropshire. As a very rare and diverse class of monument important for our
understanding of the social organisation and the development of literacy and
Christianity during the early medieval period, all surviving groundfast
examples of early Christian memorial stones are considered worthy of

The early Christian memorial stone at Mawgan Cross has survived well, with its
inscription complete and legible, and in rare association with a broadly
contemporary boundary. It is one of only two such stones in south west Britain
that bear the `alpha' and `omega' symbols, and it is one of only three
memorial stones nationally that were re-fashioned to form a cross. The unusual
features and good survival of this stone are reflected in its frequent
reference by early antiquaries and in its mention in national studies of this
monument class. As a wayside cross, it remains as a marker on its original
route and junction, despite the absence of the head, demonstrating well the
roles of wayside crosses and showing clearly the longevity of many routes
still in use. The origin of some such early routes around contemporary and now
redundant boundaries is well-illustrated at Mawgan and paralleled by the
transition from the memorial stone to the wayside cross embodied in this

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Olson, L, Early Monasteries in Cornwall, (1989)
Preston-Jones, A, Rose, P, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Medieval Cornwall, (1986), 135-185
Preston-Jones, A, Rose, P, 'Cornish Archaeology' in Medieval Cornwall, (1986), 135-185
consulted 1994, CCRA Register entry for SW 72 SW/3,
consulted 1994, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 24667,
Okasha, E, Monument Class Description for 'Early Christian Memorial Stones', (1990)
Okasha, E, Monument Class Description for 'Early Christian Memorial Stones', (1990)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 52/62 & part SW 72
Source Date: 1983

Source: Historic England

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