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An inscribed cross shaft, a lantern cross head and a cross-base in Gulval churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in Penzance, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1323 / 50°7'56"N

Longitude: -5.5211 / 5°31'16"W

OS Eastings: 148461.357625

OS Northings: 31743.659764

OS Grid: SW484317

Mapcode National: GBR DXRB.FTG

Mapcode Global: VH12S.8X2Y

Entry Name: An inscribed cross shaft, a lantern cross head and a cross-base in Gulval churchyard

Scheduled Date: 21 October 1971

Last Amended: 18 September 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018493

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31825

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Penzance

Built-Up Area: Penzance

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Gulval

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes an early medieval inscribed cross shaft with a late
medieval lantern cross head, mounted on a medieval cross-base situated to the
south of Gulval parish church. The overall height of the monument is 1.32m.
The inscribed cross shaft survives as an upright granite shaft but mounted
upside down - the tenon for mounting in a cross base is at the top. The shaft
measures 0.45m wide by 0.32m thick. A wide bead runs down each edge of the
shaft, and all four faces are decorated. The north and south sides bear an
incised `Z' shaped key pattern, while the east face bears an interlaced design
in low relief. The west face is divided into three panels: the upper panel is
decorated with an interlace design, but the two lower panels each contain a
line of incised inscription. This inscription has been read as `VN VI', or
`VRI VI', it is very worn and is now illegible. This cross shaft is considered
to date from the ninth to 11th centuries. This cross shaft was found in 1885
in use as a quoin stone at the east end of the church. It was later set up in
its present location.
The cross head survives as the upper part of a granite lantern head, and is
mounted on a large cross base. The head measures 0.48m high by 0.33m wide
and is 0.21m thick. The principal faces are orientated east-west. The west
face bears a simple crucifixion scene with a worn figure of Christ with
outstretched arms. The other three faces each bear a figure, all very worn.
Each figure is set beneath an arched canopy. In the top of the head is a
shallow, square hole possibly to support a smaller cross or a finial.
The granite cross base measures 0.69m wide by 0.69m thick and is 0.83m high.
Each face is decorated: the south face bears a relief figure with a halo,
kneeling and holding a book; the relief carving on the east face is moss
covered and indistinct; on the north face there is another relief figure with
a halo; and the west face bears an indistinct incised motif. Around the top of
the base is a groove forming a bead around the socket. This cross base is
unique in Cornwall, and is considered to have come from a different cross to
the lantern cross now mounted in its socket.
The metalled surface of the footpath to the south of the crosses, the section
of window tracery and the electricity cable to the north where they fall
within the 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.

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 medieval cross shaft, lantern head and large base survive reasonably well.
The cross shaft bears an inscription which, although illegible, is an
indication of the importance of Christianity at Gulval from the early medieval
period through to the present day. The highly decorated cross base is unique
in Cornwall. The reuse of the cross shaft in the church building and its later
removal and erection in the churchyard next to the cross base and lantern
cross head, in the 19th century demonstrate 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)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of West Penwith, (1997)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of West Penwith, (1997)
Okasha, E, Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain, (1993)
Consulted November 1997, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 31693.01,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 33/43/part 53; Pathfinder 1364
Source Date: 1989

Source: Historic England

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