Ancient Monuments

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Wayside cross-head in St Sennen's churchyard, 10m south of the church

A Scheduled Monument in Sennen, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.0708 / 50°4'14"N

Longitude: -5.6949 / 5°41'41"W

OS Eastings: 135707.308989

OS Northings: 25503.134446

OS Grid: SW357255

Mapcode National: GBR DXBH.D70

Mapcode Global: VH05M.7HP3

Entry Name: Wayside cross-head in St Sennen's churchyard, 10m south of the church

Scheduled Date: 28 July 1971

Last Amended: 12 November 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015061

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29219

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Sennen

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Sennen

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross-head located in St Sennen's
churchyard on the Penwith peninsula in the far west of Cornwall. This is one
of two crosses now present in the churchyard.
The wayside cross-head, which is Listed Grade II, survives as a round, `wheel'
head mounted on the east side of the south entrance to the churchyard. The
overall height of the monument is 0.56m. The principal faces are orientated
east-west. The head measures 0.56m high by 0.69m wide and is 0.2m thick. Both
principal faces bear an equal limbed cross with slightly splayed ends to the
limbs, formed by four sunken triangles, each with a bead around them. The head
is cemented onto the churchyard wall.
The historian Langdon recorded that this cross in 1884 was built into a hedge
on a footpath close to the Giant's Stone, to the north east of St Sennen's
Church. By 1896 it had been moved to the churchyard and mounted on the
churchyard wall to the east side of the south entrance.
The headstone and kerb surround to the north east of the cross fall within its
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-head in St Sennen's churchyard has survived reasonably well
and is a good example of a wheel headed cross-head. In its original site it
probably acted as a waymarker on a route within the parish to the church. Its
removal to the churchyard in the later 19th century and re-erection there,
illustrates 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)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 32/42; Pathfinder Series 1368
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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