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Medieval churchyard cross in Laneast churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Laneast, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.6285 / 50°37'42"N

Longitude: -4.5069 / 4°30'24"W

OS Eastings: 222792.154001

OS Northings: 83979.719

OS Grid: SX227839

Mapcode National: GBR ND.9L5B

Mapcode Global: FRA 17GD.S0F

Entry Name: Medieval churchyard cross in Laneast churchyard

Scheduled Date: 17 March 1955

Last Amended: 15 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014015

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26249

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Laneast

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Laneast

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The monument includes a medieval churchyard cross located in Laneast
churchyard in north Cornwall.

The churchyard cross survives as the upper section of a granite shaft with a
round or `wheel' head set on a modern granite shaft and base. The overall
height of the monument is 2.54m. The head measures 0.58m wide and the
principal faces are orientated east-west. Each face of the head displays a low
relief equal limbed cross, its limbs slightly splayed at the ends. The head is
pierced by four holes marking the angles where the limbs of the relief cross
meet and creating a distinct ring linking the limbs. The side limbs are more
widely splayed than the upper and lower limbs and project slightly beyond the
enclosing ring. At the base of the head is an abacus or collar-like disc
around the neck of the cross, which projects beyond the edge of the shaft. The
abacus is 0.42m wide and has a marked inclination towards the north. The upper
section of shaft measures 0.4m high by 0.29m wide and 0.21m thick. There is a
narrow bead on all four corners of the shaft. On the east face is a lightly
incised pattern of crossing lines forming lozenge shapes. The lower section of
shaft measures 1.36m high by 0.46m wide at the base tapering to 0.29m at the
top and is 0.25m thick. The upper portion of the shaft is joined to the modern
section of shaft by cement. The rectangular modern granite base measures 1.23m
north-south by 1.05m east-west and is 0.08m high above ground level. The shaft
is cemented into the base, and there are drill splits or narrow grooves
visible along the top edge of the base, the result of one method of splitting
granite.

This churchyard cross was discovered in 1952 when a grave was being dug in
the churchyard. It was found amongst building rubble 0.9m below ground level.
The historian Ellis suggested that the cross was discarded in 1437 when the
church was rebuilt. In 1954 the cross was re-erected in its present location
close to where it was found, opposite the south porch.

The gravestone to the south west and the metalled surface of the footpath
passing to the north of the cross-base are excluded from the scheduling, where
they fall within the protective margin of the cross, but the ground beneath is
included.

The cross is Listed Grade II*.

MAP EXTRACT
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

A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone,
mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD).
Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as
stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm
Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for
preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of
sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between
parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate
battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and
protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market
places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some
crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for
example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the
scenes of games or recreational activity.
Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have
numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation
has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and
religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by
iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval
standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The
oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft
often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the
stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a
flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th
centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may
take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more
elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped
crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding
stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the
most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the
stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also
uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the
13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and
cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base,
buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and
head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our
understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our
knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which
survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their
original location, are considered worthy of protection.

The Laneast churchyard cross has survived well despite the loss of its lower
shaft and base. It forms a good example of a four-holed wheel-headed cross and
has an abacus with moulded edges at its neck which suggests a late tenth
century date. The abacus is a rare form of decoration which is only present on
two other crosses in Cornwall. The burial of the cross head and upper shaft
amongst building rubble in the churchyard until the 20th century when it was
re-erected, illustrates the changing attitudes to religion that have prevailed
since the Reformation and the impact of these changes on the local landscape.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of North Cornwall, (1992)
Other
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 17641,
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:25000 Map; SX 28/38; Pathfinder Series 1326
Source Date: 1989
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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