Ancient Monuments

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Fish Cross: standing cross immediately east of the Town Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Penryn, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1681 / 50°10'5"N

Longitude: -5.1029 / 5°6'10"W

OS Eastings: 178509.693

OS Northings: 34394.992

OS Grid: SW785343

Mapcode National: GBR ZC.GDQQ

Mapcode Global: FRA 086K.V50

Entry Name: Fish Cross: standing cross immediately east of the Town Hall

Scheduled Date: 25 September 1934

Last Amended: 24 April 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020451

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32953

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Penryn

Built-Up Area: Penryn

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Gluvias

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a standing cross immediately to the east of the Town
Hall in central Penryn. The cross is mounted on a modern base. It
measures up to 0.84m south west-north east by 0.71m north west-south east
overall, and its total height is 1.31m. The cross is Listed Grade II*.
The cross head is of cut granite with a smooth finish and is 0.33m wide,
0.39m high, and 0.21m thick. It has straight sides, a rounded top, and the
effect of a neck on the front (south east side), formed by a recess. The
face has been cut back above a line 0.08m from the bottom of the head,
forming a sunken field with an equal limbed cross in relief in its centre.
The carved cross measures approximately 0.3m across. Its limbs are 0.11m
long and flare outwards from the centre to their outer ends. The back
(north west side) and sides are plain. There is evidence of limited
modification of the cross head. It is thought to have been broken off a
The modern base of cut granite is formed of a rectangular slab below a
tapering rectangular section plinth supporting the cross head. The base
slab measures 0.84m south west-north east by 0.71m south east-north west
and 0.18m high. The plinth above has chamfered edges framing a panel with
a rusticated finish on each side, and is 0.6m south west-north east by
0.5m at its base, 0.5m by 0.4m at its top, and 0.74m high.
As its traditional name indicates, Fish Cross is associated with Penryn's
medieval fish market, where it stood until 1895. The market is no longer
standing. It was situated at the junction of Broad Street and St Thomas'
Street, some 100m south east of the present site of the cross.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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 Fish Cross standing cross, immediately east of the Town Hall survives
well. Despite evidence for its removal from a shaft, the cross head
remains substantially intact, with some limited damage. The name Fish
Cross and its association with the nearby site of the fish market
illustrates the use of crosses in market places to mark centres for public
gatherings and legitimise transactions.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1999), 31
Wingfield, DEV, Penryn Archaeology and Development - a survey, (1979), 13
AM7, (1934)
SW7834SE 580-1/6/118, Unknown, D of E Schedule of Listed Buildings, (1971)

Source: Historic England

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