Ancient Monuments

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Wayside cross in Gwennap churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Gwennap, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.2178 / 50°13'3"N

Longitude: -5.1711 / 5°10'16"W

OS Eastings: 173871.031

OS Northings: 40118.086

OS Grid: SW738401

Mapcode National: GBR Z7.DDR2

Mapcode Global: FRA 081G.572

Entry Name: Wayside cross in Gwennap churchyard

Scheduled Date: 22 March 1932

Last Amended: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016289

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30403

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Gwennap

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Gwennap

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross situated to the north of the
church at Gwennap in west Cornwall.
The wayside cross, which is Listed Grade II*, is visible as an upright granite
shaft with a round or `wheel' head, measuring 1.76m in overall height. The
head measures 0.52m in diameter and is 0.16m thick. The principal faces, both
of which are decorated, are orientated north-south. The north principal face
bears a relief figure of Christ, 0.37m tall, with outstretched arms. The south
principal face bears a relief `Latin' cross, the broad lower limb continues
down the length of the shaft. The outer edge of both principal faces is
decorated with a narrow bead. On the north face the bead continues around the
base of the head and the feet of the Christ figure merge into it. On the south
face the bead continues down either side of the shaft. The shaft measures
1.24m high by 0.26m wide at the base widening slightly to 0.29m at the top,
and is 0.16m thick. The north principal face of the shaft is decorated with a
relief `Latin' cross. The lower portion of the shaft had been reused as the
lowest step of a stile on a church path. The base of the shaft is set in
The flat tombstone, and the slate headstones to the south of the cross are
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 has survived reasonably well, despite the reuse of the
lower shaft as part of a stile. It is a good example of a wheel headed cross
with a rare figure of Christ motif on one face, and a `Latin' cross on the
shaft. Its removal from its original location, its reuse as part of a stile,
and its repair and re-erection in the churchyard illustrate well the changing
attitudes to religion and their impact on the local landscape since the
medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Consulted 1996, AM7 for CO 169,
Information from Andrew Langdon, (1996)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 74/84; Pathfinder Series 1360
Source Date: 1977

Source: Historic England

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