Ancient Monuments

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Wayside cross-slab and early Christian memorial stone in St Columb Major churchyard, 2m south of the church

A Scheduled Monument in St. Columb Major, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.4357 / 50°26'8"N

Longitude: -4.9404 / 4°56'25"W

OS Eastings: 191285.631

OS Northings: 63665.444

OS Grid: SW912636

Mapcode National: GBR ZN.5MHQ

Mapcode Global: FRA 07JW.YZV

Entry Name: Wayside cross-slab and early Christian memorial stone in St Columb Major churchyard, 2m south of the church

Scheduled Date: 7 September 1950

Last Amended: 5 January 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014220

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28460

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Columb Major

Built-Up Area: St Columb Major

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Columb Major

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross-slab and early Christian
memorial stone situated immediately to the south of the church in St Columb
Major churchyard in northern central Cornwall.
The wayside cross-slab and early Christian memorial stone survives as an
upright, rectangular slab of coarse grained granite standing to an overall
height of 1.32m. The cross-slab measures 0.64m wide by 0.22m thick. The
principal faces are orientated east-west. Both principal faces are decorated
with an equal limbed cross formed by four triangular sinkings in the areas
between the limbs: the cross on the east face has widely expanded ends to the
limbs; that on the west face has splayed ends to the upper and lower limbs.
There is a badly eroded inscription on the west face, which has never been
fully deciphered. The inscription has been read as `Iaconius'. This cross-slab
was originally set up as an early Christian memorial stone, and the historian
Henderson dated it to the fifth - eighth centuries. The cross-slab has been
pierced right through the two principal faces by two holes, each 0.04m in
diameter, one near the top and one near the base of the slab. There is another
hole 0.04m in diameter and 0.04m deep in the top of the slab. These holes are
the result of the former reuse of the cross as a gatepost.
This wayside cross-slab and early Christian memorial stone is located
immediately to the south of St Columb Major church. Its original site is not
recorded but in 1858 it was located outside St Columb Major churchyard, and
prior to that it had been used as a gatepost. It was later moved into the
churchyard and re-erected in its present position.
The slate covered gutter to the east, north and west of the cross-slab and the
metalled surface of the footpath passing to the south, where they lie within
the protective margin of the cross are 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 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 cross-slab in St Columb Major churchyard has survived well, and is an
unusual example of a wayside cross with a crudely executed design and an
inscription. It combined two functions, as an early Christian memorial stone
and as a wayside cross. Its reuse as a gatepost and its removal to the
churchyard and re-erection there 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, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 21586,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 86/96; Pathfinder Series 1346
Source Date: 1985

Source: Historic England

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