Ancient Monuments

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Wayside cross in Lesnewth churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Lesnewth, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.6822 / 50°40'55"N

Longitude: -4.6475 / 4°38'50"W

OS Eastings: 213065.922

OS Northings: 90294.3585

OS Grid: SX130902

Mapcode National: GBR N6.6620

Mapcode Global: FRA 1748.R6X

Entry Name: Wayside cross in Lesnewth churchyard

Scheduled Date: 1 February 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014213

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28452

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Lesnewth

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Otterham, Saint Juliot and Lesnewth

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross situated to the south of the
church at Lesnewth on the north coast of Cornwall.

The wayside cross survives as a round or `wheel' head set on a modern granite
shaft and base. The overall height of the monument is 2.4m. The principal
faces are orientated east-west. The head measures 0.73m high by 0.64m wide
and is 0.17m thick. The east principal face bears a relief equal limbed cross
with slightly splayed ends to the limbs, and a circular flat boss at the
intersection of the limbs. A narrow bead, 0.06m wide, passes around the outer
edge of the head. The west face is plain, except for a narrow bead around the
outer edge of the head. This face was hollowed out, removing the cross motif,
to facilitate its former reuse as a feeding trough for pigs. At the neck are
two rounded projections 0.08m high by 0.07m wide, to either side of the shaft.
The cross head is joined to the modern shaft by cement. The shaft measures
1.53m high by 0.46m wide at the base tapering to 0.38m at the top, and is
0.28m thick at the base tapering to 0.2m at the top. All four corners of the
shaft have a 0.05m wide bead. The rectangular modern base measures 0.98m
east-west by 1.4m north-south and is 0.14m high.

The wayside cross is located to the south of the church, by a wooden
footbridge over a stream, marking the footpath to the church from Tregrylls
Farm. The cross head was found in the 1860s by a local farmer who hollowed
out one face in order to use it as a feeding bowl for his pigs. It was too
shallow for this purpose and was soon discarded. In 1872 the head was
recovered and was later re-erected on a modern shaft and base.

The metalled surface of the footpath passing to the east of the cross and the
wooden footbridge to the south east, where they lie within the protective
margin of the cross, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath is included. This 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.

The wayside cross in Lesnewth churchyard has survived reasonably well, and is
a good example of a wheel-headed cross despite being mounted on a modern shaft
and base. Although there is no record of its original position, in its present
location it fulfills the function of a wayside cross, marking a footpath
within the parish to the church. Its former reuse as a feeding bowl, and its
re-erection in the churchyard in the 19th century demonstrate well the
changing attitudes to religion and their impact on the local landscape since
the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of North Cornwall, (1992)
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 08/18: Pathfinder Series 1325
Source Date: 1986

Source: Historic England

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