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The Prior's Cross at Washaway

A Scheduled Monument in Egloshayle, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.4948 / 50°29'41"N

Longitude: -4.7683 / 4°46'5"W

OS Eastings: 203750.42373

OS Northings: 69770.93

OS Grid: SX037697

Mapcode National: GBR N0.L512

Mapcode Global: FRA 07XR.657

Entry Name: The Prior's Cross at Washaway

Scheduled Date: 22 March 1932

Last Amended: 18 July 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011012

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24285

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Egloshayle

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Breoke

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, known as the Prior's Cross,
situated at Washaway village, beside the main road linking Bodmin with
Wadebridge in northern mid-Cornwall.
The Prior's Cross which is Listed Grade II, survives with a medieval round
'wheel' head and integral upper shaft fragment mounted on a tall modern shaft,
measuring 3.24m in overall height. The granite head measures 0.68m wide and
0.23m thick and is decorated on each principal face with a relief 'Fleur de
Lys' motif within a narrow raised perimeter bead. The sides of the head also
bear a bead along each edge. The Fleur de Lys motif was a symbol of the Virgin
Mary and is considered to have been chosen as the cross motif by the medieval
priory of Bodmin who owned the present and former sites of this cross. From
the base of the head, the bead continues along the faces and sides of the
integral upper 0.3m of the shaft, however on the faces, a slight step enlarges
the groove of the bead into a broad channel to delineate a broad raised
midline. This original upper portion of the shaft measures 0.4m wide by 0.23m
thick at the neck. It is cemented onto a modern granite rectangular-section
shaft which tapers evenly to the neck from 0.49m wide and 0.37m thick at the
base. The channels forming the raised midline on the principal faces continue
down the upper 0.25m of the shaft, then revert to a groove defining a bead
along the edge down to 0.85m above ground level. The central portion of the
modern shaft between the beading is dressed with a coarsely pecked finish.
The Prior's Cross is situated at a fork on the main ridge-top route linking
the important medieval centres of Bodmin and Wadebridge. The route also linked
the medieval Bodmin priory with its manor and chapel at Pendavey.
The surviving original cross head and upper shaft is considered to be the
'Prior's Cross' recorded by the antiquary Hals in 1685 and 1736 at Mount
Charles, 0.9km to the SSE along the same route, where it marked the junction
with another major route to the north around the western edge of Bodmin Moor,
along which is the only other known example of a cross bearing the 'Fleur de
Lys' motif. At Mount Charles, the cross also marked the parish boundary
between Lanivet and Egloshayle. The cross was subsequently removed, later to
be found in the adjacent Dunsmere Woods. In the later 19th century, the
original head and upper shaft were re-erected against a wall at Washaway
village, close to its present site. It was erected on the modern shaft at its
present location in 1935.
The modern GPO marker post to the south 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 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 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 original head and upper shaft of the Prior's Cross head have survived well
and, despite the loss of the original shaft, this cross provides one of only
two known examples of a wheel head cross decorated with a Fleur de Lys motif
and the only one with that design on both principal faces. Although now
relocated from its original position, it remains a marker on the same
important medieval route, demonstrating well the major function of wayside
crosses and shows clearly the longevity of such routes still in use.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Henderson, C, The Cornish Church Guide, (1928)
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of North Cornwall, (1992)
AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 156, consulted 1993
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 26033,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 06/16; Pathfinder Series 1347
Source Date: 1989

Source: Historic England

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