Ancient Monuments

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Wayside cross in the churchyard of the parish church of Mabe, south of the church

A Scheduled Monument in Mabe, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1498 / 50°8'59"N

Longitude: -5.1405 / 5°8'25"W

OS Eastings: 175740.663022

OS Northings: 32468.339403

OS Grid: SW757324

Mapcode National: GBR Z8.VNTT

Mapcode Global: FRA 083M.K4K

Entry Name: Wayside cross in the churchyard of the parish church of Mabe, south of the church

Scheduled Date: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017800

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30410

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Mabe

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Mabe

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross situated to the south of the
church in Mabe churchyard in west Cornwall.
The wayside cross, which is listed Grade II, survives as an upright granite
shaft with a round `wheel' head, the shaft mounted in a modern granite base.
The overall height of the monument is 0.99m. The principal faces are
orientated east-west. The head measures 0.37m wide and is 0.14m thick. Both
principal faces bear a relief `Latin' cross, the lower limb extending down
onto the top of the shaft. The lower limb on the west face terminates near the
top of the shaft, while that on the east face terminates close to the base of
the shaft. There is a rebate, a reduction in thickness, around the face and
down each edge of the shaft on the east face. The shaft measures 0.28m wide by
0.14m thick; the base is cemented into a modern granite base. This base
measures 0.53m north-south by 0.36m east-west and is 0.05m high.
In 1896 the historian Langdon recorded this cross against the front wall of
the vicarage, 140m WNW of Mabe church. Sometime after 1896 the cross was moved
into the churchyard and re-erected on a modern base. Both of the `Latin' cross
motifs are very clear, and may have been recut sometime in the 19th century.
The metalled surface of the footpath surrounding the cross and the granite
slabs forming part of the footpath to the north east, the iron drain cover and
the drain to the north, and the memorial slabs to the west of the cross, where
they fall within the 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 has survived well as a good example of a `wheel' headed
cross with a `Latin' cross motif on both principal faces. Its relocation in
the churchyard at Mabe 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 G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.18576.02,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 83; Pathfinder Series 1366
Source Date: 1984

Source: Historic England

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