Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross in St Illogan churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Illogan, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.2503 / 50°15'0"N

Longitude: -5.268 / 5°16'4"W

OS Eastings: 167122.842073

OS Northings: 44030.066911

OS Grid: SW671440

Mapcode National: GBR Z0.QC8J

Mapcode Global: VH12B.MZW1

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Illogan churchyard

Scheduled Date: 12 November 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015064

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29224

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Illogan

Built-Up Area: Redruth

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Saint Illogan

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval churchyard cross situated to the north of
the church at Illogan on the north coast of west Cornwall.

The churchyard cross, which is Listed Grade II, survives as an upright granite
shaft with a round, `wheel' head. The overall height of the monument is 1.66m.
The principal faces are orientated north west-south east. The head measures
0.46m high by 0.51m wide and is 0.29m thick. Both principal faces are
decorated. The south east principal face bears a relief equal limbed cross
with widely expanded ends to the limbs. The upper limb has four 0.03m diameter
lead filled holes, possibly used to attach something to this face of the
cross. The north west face bears a relief equal limbed cross, with a circular
shallow indentation 0.1m in diameter at the intersection of the limbs. On
both faces there is a narrow bead around the outer edge of the head. The shaft
measures 1.2m high by 0.41m wide at the base tapering to 0.34m at the top and
is 0.29m thick. The shaft is chamfered on all four corners.

This churchyard cross is located to the north of St Illogan Church, and south
of the site of the medieval church, the tower of which is still standing. The
cross is believed to be in its original position. The historian Langdon in
1896 was informed by the sexton that the cross shaft is deeply buried. When
digging a grave close to the cross, he uncovered the shaft to a depth of 1.5m.

The headstones and kerb surrounds to the south west and west 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.
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

A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone,
mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD).
Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as
stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm
Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for
preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of
sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between
parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate
battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and
protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market
places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some
crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for
example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the
scenes of games or recreational activity.
Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have
numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation
has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and
religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by
iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval
standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The
oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft
often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the
stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a
flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th
centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may
take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more
elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped
crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding
stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the
most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the
stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also
uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the
13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and
cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base,
buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and
head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our
understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our
knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which
survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their
original location, are considered worthy of protection.

The churchyard cross in St Illogan churchyard has survived well. It is a good
example of a wheel headed cross. There is no record of its ever having been
moved. This cross maintains its original function as a churchyard cross in its
original location.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 18010.3,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 33/43/part 53; Pathfinder 1364
Source Date: 1989

Source: Historic England

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