Ancient Monuments

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Fenton Pits Cross, 210m WSW of Penburthen Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Lanivet, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.4345 / 50°26'4"N

Longitude: -4.7316 / 4°43'53"W

OS Eastings: 206106.560503

OS Northings: 62969.042282

OS Grid: SX061629

Mapcode National: GBR N2.PVW2

Mapcode Global: FRA 07ZX.2GQ

Entry Name: Fenton Pits Cross, 210m WSW of Penburthen Farm

Scheduled Date: 5 April 1932

Last Amended: 12 July 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012507

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24299

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Lanivet

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Lanivet

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, known as the Fenton Pits
Cross, surrounded by a 2m protective margin, situated near a minor road
junction in the hamlet of Fenton Pits, south east of Lanivet in mid-Cornwall.
The cross is located on an ancient route across the Cornish peninsula from
Padstow on the north coast to Fowey on the south coast.
The Fenton Pits Cross survives as an upright granite cross with a round
'wheel' head set in a groundfast granite boulder. The cross head measures 0.4m
high by 0.59m wide and 0.16m thick. Each principal face bears a relief equal-
limbed cross with widely expanded limbs whose ends merge with a narrow bead,
0.03m wide, around the perimeter of the head. The cross motif has a central
raised boss 0.08m in diameter at the intersection of the limbs. The upper edge
of the upper limb has been truncated by a slight fracture across the top edge
of the head. The rectangular-section shaft is undecorated and stands 0.85m
high, tapering in width from 0.33m at the base to 0.3m at the neck, and
tapering in thickness from 0.21m at the base to 0.18m at the neck. The shaft
is set in a large sub-rectangular granite boulder measuring 0.97m north-south
by 0.53m east-west and 0.29m high.
The Fenton Pits Cross is situated near a junction on a minor road which,
during the medieval period, formed part of an important route across central
Cornwall linking the Camel and Fowey estuaries. This route, the usage of which
is considered to extend back into the prehistoric period, is marked by other
surviving medieval wayside crosses, reflecting its prominence as a medieval
pilgrimage route for travellers from Ireland and Wales to the south Cornish
ports en route to holy sites on the Continent. This route is now commemorated
by a long distance footpath, the Saint's Way, which passes by this cross. This
is also one of several surviving crosses marking routes within the parish to
the church at Lanivet. This cross was originally located 18m from its present
position on the same road. When recorded by the historian Langdon in 1896, its
base and lower shaft were separated and situated in a nearby hedge. The cross
was reunited and erected in its present position in 1926 by workmen from the
neighbouring Lanhydrock Estate.
The metalled surface of the modern road passing west 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 Fenton Pits Cross has survived well and, despite being relocated, it
remains on its original route. It forms a good example of a wheel-headed
cross, complete with head, shaft and base. Its position on an important
ancient route across the Cornish peninsula, in use since the prehistoric
period and later forming a major medieval pilgrimage route before reverting to
a modern minor road, demonstrates the longevity of many routes still in use
and the development of the road network. This also shows clearly the
relationship between wayside crosses and early thoroughfares, evident at a
more detailed level by the cross's position marking a route to the parish
church at Lanivet.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cornwall County Council, , The Saint's Way, (1992)
Keast, J, The Story of Fowey, (1987)
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 21363,
Given by letter, 8/93, Information given to MPPFW by Mr Andrew Langdon, (1993)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 06/16; Pathfinder Series 1347
Source Date: 1989

Source: Historic England

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