Medieval wayside cross at Wenmouth Cross, 320m north of Wenmouth
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
- St. Neot
- National Grid Reference:
- SX 19661 67875
Reasons for Designation
Bodmin Moor, the largest of the Cornish granite uplands, has long been
recognised to have exceptional preservation of archaeological remains. The
Moor has been the subject of detailed archaeological survey and is one of the
best recorded upland landscapes in England. The extensive relict landscapes of
prehistoric, medieval and post-medieval date provide direct evidence for human
exploitation of the Moor from the earliest prehistoric period onwards. The
well-preserved and often visible relationship between settlement sites, field
systems, ceremonial and funerary monuments as well as later industrial remains
provides significant insights into successive changes in the pattern of land
use through time. 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 which might have a more
specifically religious function, including providing access to religious sites
for parishioners and funeral processions. Wayside crosses vary considerably in
form and decoration but several regional types have been identified. The
Cornish wayside crosses form one such group. The commonest type includes a
round, or `wheel', head on the faces of which various forms of cross were
carved. The design was sometimes supplemented with a relief figure of Christ.
Less common forms include the `Latin' cross, where the cross-head itself is
shaped as the arms of an unenclosed cross and, much rarer, the simple slab
with a low-relief cross on both faces. Over 400 crosses of all types are
recorded in Cornwall. Of the 35 surviving on Bodmin Moor, 21 are recorded as
wayside crosses. Wayside crosses contribute significantly to our understanding
of medieval routeways, settlement patterns and the development of sculptural
traditions. 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 Wenmouth Cross has survived reasonably well. Despite some modifications from its former use as a gatepost, it remains a good example of a latin cross complete with head, shaft and base. Although it has been moved a short distance, its original location beside an ancient routeway is known; its present situation remains on that same route which demonstrates well the various roles of wayside crosses in marking both major cross-country routes and the ways within the parish to the church.
The monument includes a medieval wayside cross situated at Wenmouth Cross, a
crossroads on an early routeway near St Neot on southern Bodmin Moor.
The wayside cross survives with an upright granite head and shaft set in a
granite cross-base. The cross has a head with unenclosed arms, a form called a
'latin' cross, with its principal faces facing south and north. The cross
rises 1.12m high above its base. The shaft is sub-rectangular in section,
tapering slightly from 0.36m wide at its base to 0.32m just below the arms,
and is up to 0.25m thick. All edges have a chamfer 0.05m wide. Only the
eastern side-arm survives of the original three at the head, the western and
upper arms having been truncated at their bases. The surviving arm is 0.2m
long, with chamfered upper and lower edges. Along the west face of the cross
are three lead-filled holes, at points 0.2m, 1.12m and 1.15m below the top of
the shaft, marking the former sites of gatepost fittings from a period when
the cross was re-used as a gatepost in Lampen Lane in St Neot village. A
shallow recess on top of the cross, where the upper arm was truncated, may
also have been caused by its use as a gatepost. A single-line latin cross is
incised on both principal faces of the monument extending the length of the
shaft, with the cross-groove along the centre of the arms.
The cross-shaft is set in a base which, although presently obscured beneath
the turf, is recorded as the same cross-base in which the shaft was secured
when this cross was formerly sited at its original location 160m west along
the same ancient routeway beside Tremorkin Farm. Maps dated until the 1880's
record the cross at that location; by 1896, the base remained in place but the
cross-shaft had been removed to serve as a gatepost at Lampen Lane, St Neot
village. In 1932, the shaft and cross-base were re-united and moved to their
present location at Wenmouth Cross. The monument's present and former
locations are on an ancient east-west route skirting the southern edge of
Bodmin Moor; this is also one of several main routes to the parish church
which are marked by medieval wayside crosses in St Neot parish.
An area 2m wide beyond the cross is included in the scheduling to ensure its
protection. Within this area both modern signposts to the east of the cross
and the surface of the metalled road passing south of the cross are excluded
from the scheduling although the ground beneath these features is included.
MAP EXTRACT 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.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 295, consulted 1993
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 17142/17142.01/17142.02,
Title: 1:2500 Ordnance Survey Map: SX 06/16, Pathfinder Series No. 1347, Bodmin Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing