Ancient Monuments

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Cross base 30m south of St Merryn's Church

A Scheduled Monument in St. Merryn, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.5285 / 50°31'42"N

Longitude: -4.9836 / 4°59'0"W

OS Eastings: 188637.987931

OS Northings: 74113.269931

OS Grid: SW886741

Mapcode National: GBR ZK.BVHJ

Mapcode Global: FRA 07GN.LBJ

Entry Name: Cross base 30m south of St Merryn's Church

Scheduled Date: 7 September 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019448

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31872

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Merryn

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Merryn

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross base situated 30m south of
St Merryn's Church in north Cornwall.
The cross base survives as a rectangular base of local greenstone set flush
with the ground. It measures 0.76m by 0.72m and has a rebate or bead around
the top edge. The rectangular socket or mortice is set diagonally in the top.
The socket measures 0.34m by 0.24m and is 0.25m deep. The cross base has been
fractured on two sides.
This cross base was discovered in the 1940s by an American airman, who
excavated it before being ordered to rebury it by the churchwarden. The cross
was mentioned by the historian, Langdon, in 1896. There is a local legend that
the cross was erected in 1422 when the south aisle was added to the church,
and that a greenstone cross now at Tresallyn Farm, 1km to the south east, was
the cross which originally stood in this base.
The gravestone to the north west of the cross base is excluded from the
scheduling where it falls within the monument's 2m protective margin, although
the ground beneath it 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.

The cross base 30m south of St Merryn's Church survives as a rare example of a
greenstone cross base. It is also unusual as the socket is set diagonally in
the top. The cross base may mark the convergence of two church paths on the
south side of the churchyard.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of North Cornwall, (1992)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; Explorer 106; Newquay and Padstow
Source Date: 1997

Source: Historic England

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