Ancient Monuments

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Wayside cross in Colan churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Colan, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.4127 / 50°24'45"N

Longitude: -5.0018 / 5°0'6"W

OS Eastings: 186826.515575

OS Northings: 61291.903429

OS Grid: SW868612

Mapcode National: GBR ZJ.83CJ

Mapcode Global: FRA 07DY.Z1B

Entry Name: Wayside cross in Colan churchyard

Scheduled Date: 25 October 1974

Last Amended: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017926

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30419

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 situated to the south of the
church in Colan churchyard, close to the north coast of mid Cornwall.
The wayside cross survives as an upright granite shaft measuring 1.08m high.
The principle faces are orientated north-south. The base of the shaft measures
0.36m wide widening slightly to 0.4m at the head, and the shaft is 0.17m
thick. Both principal faces bear four round sinkings or shallow holes at the
four corners of the head. The base of the head or neck is indicated by an
indentation to either side of the shaft. The south principal face of the cross
is pierced by two holes, 0.04m in diameter, one in the centre of the head, and
one near the base of the shaft, each containing a lump of iron. The north
principal face is pierced by a hole in the centre of the head, and five
further holes running down the shaft, all containing lumps of iron.
These holes are the results of a reuse of the cross as a base for iron
railings. To the east of the cross is a granite stone bearing a plaque reading
`Colan Cross Rescued from a nearby hedge and erected on this site by Newquay
OCS Dedicated on Trinity Sunday 1970'. The cross is Listed Grade II.
The gravel surface of the footpath surrounding the cross, the flower pots and
the iron bootscrapper to the south west, the drains to the north west and
north east and the modern plaque and its granite mount to the east fall within
the cross's protective margin and are excluded from the scheduling but the
ground beneath them 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 well as a good example of a wheel-headed
cross. Its square shaped head is unusual as are the round sinkings to indicate
the cross on the head. Its reuse as a fencepost in the 19th century and
removal from the roadside into the nearby churchyard 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. 22152,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 86/96; Pathfinder Series 1346
Source Date: 1985

Source: Historic England

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