Ancient Monuments

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Polmenor Cross in Gwinear churchyard, 12m north of the church

A Scheduled Monument in Gwinear-Gwithian, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1876 / 50°11'15"N

Longitude: -5.3706 / 5°22'14"W

OS Eastings: 159494.8125

OS Northings: 37391.043

OS Grid: SW594373

Mapcode National: GBR FX35.YKJ

Mapcode Global: VH12N.VKN1

Entry Name: Polmenor Cross in Gwinear churchyard, 12m north of the church

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016161

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30415

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Gwinear-Gwithian

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Gwinear

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross known as the Polmenor Cross,
situated in the churchyard north of the church at Gwinear, in west Cornwall.
The cross, which is listed Grade II survives as an upright shaft with a
round,`wheel' head of Pentewan stone mounted on a modern granite base. The
overall height of the monument is 0.8m. The principal faces are orientated
east-west. The head measures 0.45m wide and is 0.12m thick. The east face
bears a relief equal limbed cross, the side arms crossing the upper and lower
limbs at an angle, and a narrow bead running around the outer edge of the
head. The east face is plain. The upper part of the head on the south side has
been fractured at some time in the past. The shaft measures 0.34m wide by
0.12m thick. On the east face is a hole, probably the result of an earlier
reuse of the cross as a gatepost. The base of the shaft is cemented into a
modern granite base. This base measures 0.46m north-south by 0.36m east-west
and is 0.15m high. On the west face scratched into the cement is `8th Sept
1984', the date this cross was re-erected in the churchyard. The base is
cemented into the ground. The Polmenor Cross was discovered in 1936 lying face
down by a stile on Polmenor Farm, 1km north east of Gwinear church. It was re-
erected in 1937 by Camborne Old Cornwall Society beside the lane leading to
Polmenor, close to where it was found. However this location attracted few
visitors, so it was moved to the churchyard at Gwinear in 1984.
The headstone to the south of the cross and the headstone and kerbed surround
to the north, as well as the memorial slabs to the north west and 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.

The Polmenor Cross has survived in fair condition and is a good example of a
`wheel' headed cross of Pentewan stone rather than the more usual granite. Its
discovery and re-erection, first by the roadside and later in the churchyard
at Gwinear, illustrates well the changing attitudes to religion and their
impact on the local landscape since the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Rowe, L, Granite Crosses of West Cornwall
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 29556,
Title: 1;25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 63; Pathfinder Series 1365
Source Date: 1989

Source: Historic England

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