Ancient Monuments

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Boskenna Gate Cross

A Scheduled Monument in St. Buryan, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.0608 / 50°3'38"N

Longitude: -5.6058 / 5°36'21"W

OS Eastings: 142022.974535

OS Northings: 24079.896487

OS Grid: SW420240

Mapcode National: GBR DXJJ.C0H

Mapcode Global: VH05N.SQ8S

Entry Name: Boskenna Gate Cross

Scheduled Date: 1 November 1950

Last Amended: 8 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010918

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24295

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Buryan

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Buryan

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, known as the Boskenna Gate
Cross, surrounded by a 2m protective margin, situated at the junction of a
track, now marked by a public footpath, running south east from St Buryan
where it meets a road around the southern periphery of the Penwith peninsula
in west Cornwall.
The Boskenna Gate Cross, which is Listed Grade II, survives with an upright
granite shaft and a round 'wheel' head set in a rectangular granite base,
measuring 1.48m in overall height. The shaft has a cemented transverse
fracture immediately below the head. The head measures 0.59m high, 0.58m wide
and is 0.24m thick. The north east principal face of the cross is decorated
with a relief Latin cross, 0.45m wide and 1.43m long, its side-arms centred on
the head and the lowermost limb extending the length of the shaft and
expanding slightly towards the base. The head has a narrow peripheral bead
which extends a short distance down the shaft on each side before returning to
meet the extended limb of the cross motif. The south west principal face bears
a similar relief cross design but on this face, the lower limb is not evident
extended along the shaft. The rectangular-section shaft measures 0.89m high by
0.4m wide and 0.25m thick. The shaft is centrally positioned and cemented into
a large sub-circular base-stone measuring 1.5m long by 1.31m wide, set with
its upper surface at ground level.
The Boskenna Gate Cross is situated beside the north west side of the
peripheral road around the peninsula, an ancient route marked at intervals by
other surviving medieval crosses. The cross marks the junction on that route
with one of several church paths radiating into the parish from the church and
village of St Buryan. This path and most of the others are also marked by
other broadly contemporary wayside crosses, forming waymarkers to the church
at St Buryan, the site of a major Celtic monastery traditionally founded by
Athelstan in the early 10th century.
The metalled surface of the modern road south east of the cross 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

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 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 Boskenna Gate Cross has survived well and earlier records confirm its
presence at this location by its original route and junction. The minor damage
evident from the repaired fracture has not materially detracted from the cross
and it remains a good example of a wheel headed cross complete with head,
shaft and base. The location of this cross beside a main route at the junction
with a church path within the parish demonstrates well the major roles of
wayside crosses and shows clearly the longevity of many routes still in use.
This is illustrated especially clearly in St Buryan parish as it retains an
unusually complete series of medieval wayside crosses, of which this monument
forms an integral part.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Olson, L, Early Monasteries in Cornwall, (1989)
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 28183 & 28183.1,
Given by letter, 8/93, Information from Mr Andrew Langdon, (1993)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 32/42; Pathfinder Series 1368
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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