Ancient Monuments

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Medieval wayside cross in Blisland churchyard, 10m west of the church

A Scheduled Monument in Blisland, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.5269 / 50°31'36"N

Longitude: -4.6817 / 4°40'54"W

OS Eastings: 210019.215

OS Northings: 73109.915

OS Grid: SX100731

Mapcode National: GBR N4.J37H

Mapcode Global: FRA 172N.XK2

Entry Name: Medieval wayside cross in Blisland churchyard, 10m west of the church

Scheduled Date: 16 February 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014007

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26260

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Blisland

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Blisland

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross situated within the churchyard
at Blisland in north Cornwall.
The wayside cross survives as a round, granite `wheel' head set on a large
granite boulder. The overall height of the monument is 1.2m, and the
principal faces are orientated east-west. The granite head measures 0.71m high
by 0.34m wide and is 0.12m thick. Both principal faces of the head bear a
relief equal-limbed cross with slightly splayed ends to the limbs. At the
centre of each cross motif is a 0.02m diameter indentation. The two side limbs
are truncated by a fracture to each side of the cross head; the sides of the
head have been straightened, possibly to facilitate its reuse as a gatepost.
On the east face there is a 0.07m wide bead around the top and base of the
head, and this bead widens out to form a 0.1m high projection on the top of
the head, its upper edge curved parallel with the perimeter of the head. The
cross-head is set firmly in a granite boulder which measures 1.61m north-south
by 0.68m east-west and is 0.5m high. The east side of the boulder has a series
of narrow, rounded grooves along its edge, the result of one method of
splitting granite.
This wayside cross-head was found built into the churchyard wall by an
entrance to the churchyard in 1895-6.
The two gravestones to the east of the cross fall within its protective margin
and are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath is included.
The cross is Listed Grade II.

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 wayside cross has survived reasonably well, and is a good example of a
wheel-headed cross despite the reshaping of the sides. The projection on the
top of the head is unusual. Its discovery in the churchyard wall in the 19th
century and subsequent re-erection in the churchyard demonstrate well the
changing attitudes to religion and changes in the local landscape since the
medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3596,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 07/17; Pathfinder Series 1338
Source Date: 1988

Source: Historic England

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