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Medieval churchyard cross in St Cleer churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in St. Cleer, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.4869 / 50°29'12"N

Longitude: -4.4717 / 4°28'17"W

OS Eastings: 224759.063

OS Northings: 68152.469

OS Grid: SX247681

Mapcode National: GBR NF.LP75

Mapcode Global: FRA 17JR.V11

Entry Name: Medieval churchyard cross in St Cleer churchyard

Scheduled Date: 16 February 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014020

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26255

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Cleer

Built-Up Area: St Cleer

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Cleer

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval churchyard cross situated to the west of the
church in St Cleer churchyard in south east Cornwall.
The St Cleer churchyard cross survives as a round, `wheel' head set on a
modern shaft. The overall height of the monument is 1.09m. The principal faces
are orientated north west-south east. The granite head measures 0.37m high by
0.44m wide and is 0.19m thick. Both principal faces bear a low relief equal-
limbed cross with widely expanded ends to the limbs. The head is pierced by
two holes in the angles of the upper and side limbs, forming a distinct ring
linking the limbs. The head has been fractured below the side limbs. The upper
limbs have a narrow bead around their edges, and there is a central round boss
at the intersection of the limbs. The two pear shaped holes are deep set,
their outer edges sloping down into the holes from either side of the head.
The head is joined by a band of cement up to 0.08m thick to the modern shaft.
The rectangular-section granite shaft measures 0.68m high, 0.36m wide and is
0.19m thick. There is a 0.04m diameter hole 0.39m above ground level on the
south east face, probably a result of former reuse as a gatepost.
This churchyard cross is located in the churchyard at St Cleer, 0.9m west of
the south porch. The cross head fragment is believed to be part of the
original churchyard cross; it was found in 1904 when the church was
undergoing restoration. It was left among building debris until 1934 when it
was re-erected on a modern shaft.
The granite and slate memorial slabs to the north west of the cross and the
metalled surface of the footpath to the south west of the cross 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.

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 St Cleer churchyard cross has survived reasonably well despite the loss of
its shaft. It is an example of a four-holed wheel headed cross although the
lower part of the head is missing. The two remaining holes are unusually deep
set and the elaborate style of the cross head probably dates from the tenth
century. The discovery of the cross-head during restoration of the church
earlier this century and its re-erection in the churchyard, 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


Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 17278,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 26/36; Pathfinder Series 1348
Source Date: 1983

Source: Historic England

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