Ancient Monuments

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Medieval wayside cross base, 10m south of Gunwalloe church

A Scheduled Monument in Gunwalloe, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.0389 / 50°2'20"N

Longitude: -5.2689 / 5°16'7"W

OS Eastings: 166028.768

OS Northings: 20537

OS Grid: SW660205

Mapcode National: GBR Z1.4R0K

Mapcode Global: VH13H.M9D1

Entry Name: Medieval wayside cross base, 10m south of Gunwalloe church

Scheduled Date: 12 November 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015627

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29222

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Gunwalloe

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Cury with Gunwalloe

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross base situated to the south of
Gunwalloe church on the Lizard peninsula in south west Cornwall.
The cross base is visible as a rectangular block of granite, measuring 0.68m
north west-south east by 0.74m north east-south west, and 0.31m deep. In the
centre of the base is a rectangular socket, measuring 0.38m north west-south
east by 0.25m north east by south west and is 0.23m deep, cut to receive the
cross-shaft. The cross base is groundfast; the north east side is levelled
into the ground and the base is positioned on top of a low wall, by the side
of the footpath through the churchyard.
This cross base was mentioned in 1875 by the Rev Cummings, and the historian
Langdon also recorded it in 1896. It is located close to the churchyard
boundary wall, where there were originally steps down to the beach below the
The headstone to the north of the cross base falls within its protective
margin and is 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 base in Gunwalloe churchyard has survived well, with no
record of its having been moved. It is a good example of a medieval wayside
cross base, and probably originally held a cross which marked the route to the
church from the beach to the south of the churchyard.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 28037.5,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 52/62; Pathfinder Series 1369
Source Date: 1983

Source: Historic England

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