Ancient Monuments

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Churchyard cross in St Allen churchyard, 2m south of the church

A Scheduled Monument in St. Allen, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.3149 / 50°18'53"N

Longitude: -5.06 / 5°3'35"W

OS Eastings: 182243.003782

OS Northings: 50585.601547

OS Grid: SW822505

Mapcode National: GBR ZF.T61J

Mapcode Global: FRA 0896.DJV

Entry Name: Churchyard cross in St Allen churchyard, 2m south of the church

Scheduled Date: 12 September 1950

Last Amended: 12 November 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015074

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29206

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Allen

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Kenwyn with St Allen

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval churchyard cross situated to the south of
St Allen church in west Cornwall. This is one of three crosses now present in
the churchyard.

The churchyard cross, which is Listed Grade II, is visible as an upright
granite shaft with a round or `wheel' head, set in a circular granite base.
The cross base is set on the base stone of a cider press. The overall height
of the monument is 2.22m. The head measures 0.39m high by 0.45m wide and is
0.21m thick. The principal faces are orientated east-west. Both principal
faces are decorated with an equal limbed cross with splayed ends to the limbs,
the limbs formed by four triangular sinkings. A narrow bead, 0.05m wide,
decorates the outer edge of the head on both faces; this bead continues down
the edges of the shaft. The shaft measures 1.52m high by 0.27m at the base
widening to 0.33m at the top, and is 0.2m thick at the base widening slightly
to 0.22m at the top. The shaft has a marked entasis or slight convex shaping
to it, being slightly wider at the centre and tapering towards the top and
base. It also has a distinct lean towards the south east, as does the base.
Below the head, at the neck, are two rounded projections or bosses to either
side of the shaft. They project 0.05m out from the side of the shaft. The
shaft is mounted on a large circular granite base. This base measures 0.75m
north-south by 0.88m east-west and is 0.25m high. The cross base is set on the
circular base of a cider press, 1m in diameter, and between 0.06m to 0.15m
high above ground level; the base leans to the south east.

This churchyard cross was found in 1930 buried close to the south porch of the
church. It was re-erected in the churchyard to the east of the south porch, on
top of the base stone of the cider press.

The gravel surface of the footpath to the north, south and west of the cross,
and the headstones to the north west and north east 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

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.

This churchyard cross in St Allen churchyard has survived well, complete with
its head, shaft and base, and close to its original location in the
churchyard. It is a good example of a wheel headed cross. Its deliberate
burial in the churchyard, probably at the Reformation, its rediscovery earlier
this century and re-erection in the churchyard demonstrate well the changing
attitudes to religion since the medieval period and their impact on the local

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 32071.23,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 85/95; Pathfinder 1353
Source Date: 1983

Source: Historic England

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