Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Wayside cross-head in Phillack churchyard, south west of the church

A Scheduled Monument in Hayle, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1955 / 50°11'43"N

Longitude: -5.4128 / 5°24'45"W

OS Eastings: 156525.236519

OS Northings: 38409.656714

OS Grid: SW565384

Mapcode National: GBR FX05.9FJ

Mapcode Global: VH12N.4BBY

Entry Name: Wayside cross-head in Phillack churchyard, south west of the church

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016154

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30418

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Hayle

Built-Up Area: Hayle

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Phillack

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross-head situated to the south west
of the church in Phillack churchyard on the north coast of west Cornwall.
The wayside cross-head survives as a round, `wheel' head of granite, its upper
shaft visible at the neck, but the lower 0.4m of the shaft buried in the
ground. The overall height of the monument above ground is 0.4m. The principle
faces are orientated north east-south west. The head measures 0.33m wide and
is 0.27m thick. The north east face bears a relief equal limbed cross with
splayed ends to the limbs; the south east side of the head is fractured,
truncating the side limb on this side. The south west face is plain. In 1981
this cross was leaning against the church tower. By October 1984 it was buried
up to its neck in soil, in its present location. The height of the cross
before being put into the ground was 0.80m; now only the upper 0.4m is
The granite steps to the north west of the cross and the granite kerbed and
cobbled surface of the footpath to the north east, where they fall within the
cross's protective margin, are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath these features 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

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-head has survived well and is a good example of a `wheel'
headed cross. Its re-erection in the churchyard at Phillack illustrates well
the changing attitudes to religion and their impact on the local landscape
since the Reformation period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 33/43/part 53; Pathfinder 1364
Source Date: 1989

Source: Historic England

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