Ancient Monuments

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Wayside cross in St Sennen's churchyard, 6m north of the church

A Scheduled Monument in Sennen, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.071 / 50°4'15"N

Longitude: -5.695 / 5°41'41"W

OS Eastings: 135701.225821

OS Northings: 25525.811073

OS Grid: SW357255

Mapcode National: GBR DXBH.D5T

Mapcode Global: VH05M.7GNY

Entry Name: Wayside cross in St Sennen's churchyard, 6m north of the church

Scheduled Date: 28 July 1971

Last Amended: 12 November 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015062

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29220

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 situated to the north of the
church at Sennen on the Penwith peninsula in west Cornwall. This is one of
two crosses now present in the churchyard.

The wayside cross, which is Listed Grade II, survives as an upright granite
shaft with a round, `wheel' head. The overall height of the monument is 2.25m.
The principal faces are orientated east-west. The head measures 0.58m high by
0.63m wide and is 0.35m thick. Both principal faces are decorated. The west
face bears a relief cross with expanded ends to the limbs, the upper limbs
extending to the edge of the head, and the lower limb extending down the
shaft, gradually widening to end 0.89m above ground level. The east face is
decorated with a relief cross, with expanded ends to the limbs, and the lower
limb extending down onto the shaft and terminating in an expanded foot. The
shaft measures 1.67m high by 0.46m wide and is 0.34m thick.

This wayside cross is located to the north of Sennen church, by the footpath
through the churchyard. The historian Langdon in 1896 recorded that this cross
had been in use as a footbridge across a stream below Trevear farmhouse 1.75km
north east of St Sennen's Church. In 1878 it was decided to remove the cross,
and a search was made for the base stone. An old man in Sennen remembered
where the base was and it was found over 1m below the ground. The cross and
base were re-united and re-erected by the road through Sennen opposite the
west end of the church. Around 1890 the cross was removed to the new cemetery.
By 1960 the cross had been removed from the cemetery and re-erected in its
present position in the churchyard, minus its cross base.

The metalled surface of the footpath passing to the west of the cross, the
headstones to the north east, south east and north west, and the headstone
with an associated iron railing surround to the south west, 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.
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 wayside cross in St Sennen's 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 footbridge across a stream, and its subsequent
re-erection, firstly by the road through Sennen, later in the new cemetery and
finally 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)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 28535.2,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 32/42; Pathfinder Series 1368
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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