Ancient Monuments

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Wayside cross in St Agnes' churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in St. Agnes, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.3123 / 50°18'44"N

Longitude: -5.2033 / 5°12'11"W

OS Eastings: 172030.4945

OS Northings: 50723.942

OS Grid: SW720507

Mapcode National: GBR Z4.KJ90

Mapcode Global: VH125.RDLY

Entry Name: Wayside cross in St Agnes' churchyard

Scheduled Date: 6 July 1959

Last Amended: 4 September 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015058

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29215

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Agnes

Built-Up Area: St Agnes

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Agnes

Church of England Diocese: Truro


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

The wayside cross, Listed Grade II, survives as an upright granite shaft with
a round, `wheel' head mounted on a modern granite base. The overall height of
the monument is 1.58m. The principal faces are orientated south west-north
east. The head measures 0.43m high by 0.48m wide and is 0.31m thick. Both
principal faces bear an equal limbed cross in low relief with expanded ends to
the limbs. The cross motif on the south west face appears to have been re-cut
as its edges are clean and sharp; the cross on the north east face is less
distinct. The south east side of the head has been straightened in line with
the shaft, and the top of the head has been levelled. The shaft measures 1.07m
high by 0.38m wide at the base widening slightly to 0.4m at the top and is
0.27m thick. The shaft has a 0.09m chamfer on the west, north and east
corners; the chamfer on the south has been flattened. The shaft is mounted in
a modern base, constructed of two rectangluar granite blocks on either side of
the shaft, infilled with cement with granite chippings on top. This base
measures 0.93m north west-south east by 1.2m north east-south west and is
0.08m high.

This wayside cross is located to the south west of the church at St Agnes. In
the 1860s it stood at an entrance to the churchyard. It was recorded by the
local antiquarian Blight as having been reused as a lych stone to rest a
coffin on before a funeral cortege entered the church. The re-shaping of the
cross head and shaft was probably carried out in order to fit the cross for
this purpose. It is believed that the cross originally acted as a waymarker on
a route to the church.

The metalled surface of the footpath passing to the south west of the cross,
the cobbled gutters to the south east and south west and the drain with its
iron grill to the south, fall within the cross's protective margin and are
excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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 in St Agnes' churchyard has survived well and is a good
example of a wheel headed cross. It probably acted as a waymarker on a
church path. Its reuse as a lych stone and its subsequent re-erection on a
modern base in the churchyard demonstrates well the changing attitudes to
religion that have prevailed since the Reformation and the impact of these
changes on the local landscape.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.19408,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 75; Pathfinder Series 1352
Source Date: 1977

Source: Historic England

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