Ancient Monuments

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Wayside cross base in Colan churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Colan, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.4127 / 50°24'45"N

Longitude: -5.0019 / 5°0'6"W

OS Eastings: 186815.607442

OS Northings: 61292.664399

OS Grid: SW868612

Mapcode National: GBR ZJ.83BF

Mapcode Global: FRA 07DY.Z01

Entry Name: Wayside cross base in Colan churchyard

Scheduled Date: 25 October 1974

Last Amended: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016364

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30420

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Colan

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Columb Minor and Colan

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross base situated to the south of
the church in Colan churchyard, close to the north coast of mid Cornwall.
The wayside cross base measures 0.57m in overall height and survives as a
granite block moulded to give an octagonal section top springing from a
square section base. The octagonal section top measures 0.7m north-south by
0.7m east-west. The upper surface of the top contains a centrally placed
square mortice, 0.35m north-south by 0.5m east-west. The square section basal
part has sides 0.6m wide, and the corners of this basal part are chamfered.
The wayside cross base was first recorded by the local historian, Charles
Henderson in the 1920s in the grounds of the vicarage at Colan. In 1971 the
vicarage was sold and the cross base was moved into the churchyard. The style
of the cross base denotes a later medieval date, probably 15th century,
towards the end of the medieval cross series. It is Listed Grade II.
The gravel surface of the footpath surrounding the cross base, the wooden
bench to the north and the granite war memorial to the east, where they fall
within the cross base's protective margin, are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath 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.

Although only the base survives, its distincitve form places it amongst the
scarce late medieval wayside crosses, near the end of the tradition which
produced this class of monument. Its removal to the vicarage garden, probably
sometime during the 19th century, and its move into the churchyard at Colan in
the 20th century illustrates 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, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 22153,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW86/96; Pathfinder Series 1346
Source Date: 1985

Source: Historic England

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