Ancient Monuments

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Wayside cross in St Levan churchyard, 10m north east of the church

A Scheduled Monument in St. Levan, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.0424 / 50°2'32"N

Longitude: -5.6601 / 5°39'36"W

OS Eastings: 138042.49858

OS Northings: 22223.604178

OS Grid: SW380222

Mapcode National: GBR DXDK.XW4

Mapcode Global: VH05T.V63C

Entry Name: Wayside cross in St Levan churchyard, 10m north east of the church

Scheduled Date: 20 July 1972

Last Amended: 12 November 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015816

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29216

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Levan

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Levan

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross situated to the north east of
the church at St Levan on the south coast of Penwith in the far west of
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 mounted on a rectangular granite base. The
overall height of the monument is 0.92m. The principal faces are orientated
north east-south west. The head measures 0.55m in diameter and is 0.2m thick.
Both principal faces are decorated with a relief equal limbed cross, with
expanded ends to the three upper limbs. There is a bead, 0.07m wide around the
outer edge of the head on both faces. The shaft measures 0.18m high by 0.34m
wide and is 0.16m thick. All four corners of the shaft are chamfered. The
shaft is mounted on a large, rectangular base measuring 0.67m north west-south
east by 0.7m north east-south west, and is 0.22m high.
This cross is positioned at the north east entrance to the churchyard at St
Levan, on a footpath to the church from Rospletha and Porthcurno. The
historian Langdon illustrated it in this position in 1896. The chamfer on the
corners of the cross shaft, and the clean cut appearance of the cross motif
suggest that this cross is a late example of a wayside cross.

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 in St Levan churchyard has survived well and is a good
example of a wheel headed cross. There is no record of its having been moved.
It retains its original function as a waymarker on its original route
on a footpath within the parish to the church.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.28301.8,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 32/42; Pathfinder Series 1368
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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