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Churchyard cross and three wayside crosses in St Neot churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in St. Neot, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.4822 / 50°28'56"N

Longitude: -4.5583 / 4°33'29"W

OS Eastings: 218595.274622

OS Northings: 67839.699622

OS Grid: SX185678

Mapcode National: GBR N9.LYSD

Mapcode Global: FRA 17BS.9ZD

Entry Name: Churchyard cross and three wayside crosses in St Neot churchyard

Scheduled Date: 19 May 1952

Last Amended: 4 February 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018698

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31843

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Neot

Built-Up Area: St Neot

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Neot

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval churchyard cross and three medieval wayside
crosses situated within the churchyard at St Neot.
The churchyard cross survives as an upright granite shaft with a fragment of a
cross head mounted on top. The shaft measures 1.93m high by 0.52m wide and is
0.39m thick. All four corners have a bead running down them and each face is
divided into three panels, each bearing decoration in relief, interlace and
knotwork designs. On the top of this shaft is the central boss of an ornate
cross head of the four hole type.
In the 19th century the cross shaft was lying against the south wall of the
church, but in 1889 it was re-erected on the St Neot stone to the south of
the church porch. The St Neot stone was probably the original base stone of
the cross and had remained in its original location. In 1929 the fragment of
cross head was found in a wall near the churchyard, and later mounted on
top of the shaft. The St Neot stone is not visible as it is covered with
To the north west of the churchyard cross is a wayside cross from Crowpound,
which survives as an upright granite head and shaft 1.22m high. The head has
unenclosed arms, a form called a `Latin' cross, its principal faces orientated
north-south. The head measures 0.74m wide across the side arms, each of which
is 0.32m high, and 0.28m thick. The shaft measures 0.43m wide by 0.24m thick.
The cross leans backwards slightly towards the south.
This cross was originally recorded in the early 19th century at Crowpound on
Goonzion Downs to the west of St Neot, but was removed to the churchyard by
the Revd Grylls sometime between 1821 and 1862 while he was Vicar of St Neot.
It was moved to its present position in the churchyard in 1919. Crows is
Cornish for cross and the rectangular pound at Crowpound is probably the
original site of the cross.
To the north of the churchyard cross is a second wayside cross which survives
as an upright granite head and shaft 0.47m high. The Latin cross head has
principal faces orientated north-south. The head measures 0.74m across the
side arms, each of which is 0.3m high and 0.17m thick. The upper limb is
missing, fractured at some time in the past; the lower limb extends down the
length of the shaft. The shaft measures 0.33m wide by 0.17m thick. The cross
is decorated with an incised Latin cross on both principal faces.
This cross was first recorded in 1870 in the vicarage garden, and was moved
into the churchyard in 1919 when much of its shaft was sunk into the ground.
It has been suggested that this cross originally marked a church path.
To the north east of the churchyard cross is a third wayside cross which
survives as an upright granite head and shaft 1.6m high. The Latin cross head
has principal faces orientated north-south. The head measures 0.67m across the
side arms, both of which are 0.22m high and 0.14m thick. Both principal faces
bear an incised Latin cross, the lower limb extending down the shaft. The
shaft measures 0.33m wide by 0.24m thick.
This wayside cross was first recorded in the vicarage gardens; its former
history is unknown, although it has been suggested that it may have come from
Bodmin Moor.
The metalled footpath and the steps to the north of the crosses, the row of
gravestones to the west, the gravestone to the south and the row of
gravestones to the south east where they fall within the monument's protective
margin are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is

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

A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone,
mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD).
Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as
stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm
Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for
preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of
sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between
parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate
battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and
protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market
places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some
crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for
example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the
scenes of games or recreational activity.
Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have
numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation
has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and
religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by
iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval
standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The
oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft
often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the
stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a
flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th
centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may
take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more
elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped
crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding
stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the
most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the
stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also
uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the
13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and
cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base,
buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and
head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our
understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our
knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which
survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their
original location, are considered worthy of protection.

The medieval churchyard cross in St Neot churchyard survives well, despite the
loss of part of its head, as a good example of a highly decorated churchyard
cross. It remains in its original location, and maintains its original
function as a churchyard cross.
The three wayside crosses in St Neot churchyard are good examples of the
uncommon `Latin' cross type, and their removal into the churchyard in the 19th
century demonstrates well the changing attitudes to religion since the
medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses in East Cornwall, (1996)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses in East Cornwall, (1996)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses in East Cornwall, (1996)
Consulted July 1997, Cornwall SMR Entry for PRN No. 17151,
Consulted July 1997, Cornwall SMR Entry for PRN No. 17153,
Consulted July 1997, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.17149,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 06/16; Pathfinder Series 1347
Source Date: 1989

Source: Historic England

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