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Early Christian memorial stone and churchyard cross in Sancreed churchyard, 10m south of the church

A Scheduled Monument in Sancreed, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.108 / 50°6'28"N

Longitude: -5.6094 / 5°36'33"W

OS Eastings: 142023.430002

OS Northings: 29337.687002

OS Grid: SW420293

Mapcode National: GBR DXJD.HD7

Mapcode Global: VH05G.QKD2

Entry Name: Early Christian memorial stone and churchyard cross in Sancreed churchyard, 10m south of the church

Scheduled Date: 27 October 1967

Last Amended: 12 November 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015615

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29210

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Sancreed

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Sancreed

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone and medieval
churchyard cross set in a medieval wayside cross base situated to the south of
Sancreed church on the Penwith peninsula in the far west of Cornwall. This is
one of five 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 on a circular granite cross
base. The overall height of the monument is 2.41m. The head measures 0.45m
high by 0.44m wide and is 0.24m thick. The principal faces are orientated
south west-north east. Both faces are decorated with an equal limbed cross
with widely splayed arms linked by a recessed space between the limbs. The
edges of the limbs are outlined with a single bead. The ends of the side limbs
are also outlined with a single bead. The north east face bears a figure of
Christ in relief, wearing a tunic and with outstretched arms. The legs extend
on to the top of the shaft and the feet rest on a rounded projection. The
south west face is decorated with a central incised ring. The almost square
section shaft measures 1.84m high by 0.25m wide at the base widening slightly
to 0.27m at the top and is 0.25m thick at the base tapering slightly to 0.23m
at the top. The shaft has a narrow bead on all four corners and all four faces
are decorated. The north east principal face is divided into three panels: the
small upper panel containing an incised rectangle divided up with incised
lines from corner to corner; the long central panel is decorated with an
incised design of a fleur de lys or lily on a long stem, ending in a vase
shaped base; the lower panel has some markings at the top which the historian
Langdon in 1896 recorded as the remains of an inscription running horizontally
across the shaft in two lines which he read as `INCX', with another X below.
This inscription probably dates from the sixth century. The south west face is
decorated with an incised rectangle divided by incised lines from corner to
corner as on the north east face, and below that is an incised shield shape;
both motifs are at the upper part of the shaft. The north west side is divided
into three panels: the upper panel contains a rectangular motif identical with
those on the north east and south west faces; the central panel contains an
incised zig-zag pattern; and the lower panel contains some indistinct
markings, and terminates in a semicircular incised line. The south east side
has two panels, the upper containing a rectangular shape with a cross motif,
and the lower panel a relief diagonal key pattern. Below this panel is a worn
inscription in two parallel lines down the shaft; it is incised in an early
medieval form of script derived from Roman style capitals and has been read as
`FILIVS IC'. The form of the inscription and the style of the lettering
suggest a sixth century date for this inscription. The shaft is mounted in a
circular granite base, which is only partly visible; it is mostly covered by
turf. The base measures at least 0.9m in diameter and is 0.12m high. The base
and shaft have a distinct lean to the south west.

This cross was originally an early Christian memorial stone dating to the
sixth century, as the remains of the two inscriptions, one on the south east
side of the shaft, and the other on the north east face indicate. Later, the
memorial stone was inverted, the medieval cross formed out of the base of the
memorial stone and the shaft decorated with incised designs. This reuse of
the memorial stone is believed to have occurred in the 12th century, as the
decoration on the sides of the shaft and the shape of the head closely
resemble that of another cross in Sancreed churchyard.
This cross was considered to have been in its original position until the
historian Langdon visited it sometime prior to June 1895. Langdon had the soil
removed around the base of the cross and discovered the two inscriptions
described above. On consultation with the vicar, Rev Basset Rogers, it was
decided to set the cross on a base. A cross base on Treganhoe Farm which had
been built into a hedge on the road between Sancreed and Lower Drift, was
removed and brought to Sancreed churchyard. Treganhoe Farm is 0.75km to the
ENE of Sancreed church. The cross base probably originally supported a wayside
cross which marked a route within the parish to the church at Sancreed. The
cross was mounted onto the base and re-erected in its present position in the
churchyard in June 1895.
The kerb surround and headstone to the south of the cross and the metalled
surface of the footpath to the north east fall within the cross's protective
margin and are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath is
included.

MAP EXTRACT
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

Early Christian memorial stones are inscribed free-standing stones
commemorating named individuals and dating to the early medieval period (c.AD
400-1100). The stones are erect, roughly dressed or undressed slabs, bearing
incised inscriptions, usually set in one or more vertical lines down one face
of the slab, although in four examples the text runs horizontally across the
slab. All except two recorded texts are in Latin and, depending on their date,
may be inscribed in a script of Romanised capitals or an insular form of lower
case lettering called miniscules, or a mixture of the two. Six stones also
have inscriptions in an Irish script called ogham. Most inscriptions are
simple, bearing a personal name and often stating a family relationship, such
as `filii' (son of), to another personal name. Fourteen stones contain
elements of the simple inscriptions within a longer, complex inscriptive
formula, often including the phrase `hic iacet' (here lies). Additional
decoration is found on very few stones and usually comprises a cross within a
circle. Early examples, prior to the eighth century AD, may bear an early
Christian symbol called a Chi Rho monogram, compounding the first two Greek
letters of the name `Christ'.
Early Christian memorial stones are largely restricted to areas which retained
Celtic traditions during the early medieval period, with at least 139 recorded
from Wales. In England, they are almost entirely confined to the south-west
peninsula; of the 56 recorded examples, 37 occur in Cornwall, 11 in Devon, a
group of 5 in Dorset, and single examples in Somerset, Hampshire and
Shropshire. As a very rare and diverse class of monument important for our
understanding of the social organisation and the development of literacy and
Christianity during the early medieval period, all surviving groundfast
examples of early Christian memorial stones are considered worthy of
protection.

The early Christian memorial stone in Sancreed churchyard has survived well,
retaining parts of two inscriptions. Its inversion and reuse as an ornate
churchyard cross is extremely rare. It is considered to be the best example of
incised decoration in Cornwall and the lily in a vase motif is not recorded
elsewhere. This memorial stone has received mention in regional reviews on the
nature of early Christianity.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Pearce, S M, The Kingdom of Dumnonia, (1978)
Thomas, C, And Shall These Mute Stones Speak?, (1994)
Other
Consulted 1995, Cornwal SMR entry for Prn No. 28712.81,
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 28712.11,
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 28712.12,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 32/42; Pathfinder Series 1368
Source Date: 1980
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 32/42; Pathfinder Series 1368
Source Date: 1980
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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