Medieval wayside cross 550m north-west of Lewannick church


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)
National Grid Reference:
SX 27369 81134

Reasons for Designation

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 pilgrimages. 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 with 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.

This cross near Lewannick has survived reasonably well despite lacking its head and remains in its original location. The double-stepped base and the large tenon for mounting the head are unusual features. Its location demonstrates well some of the roles of wayside crosses in marking both major cross-country routes and the ways within the parish to the church. Its local name, the Swearing Cross, shows how wayside crosses may also accumulate wider traditions among the communities they served.


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, locally known as the Swearing Cross, situated north-west of Lewannick village on an early route linking villages near the north-east edge of Bodmin Moor, near that route's junction with the main east-west road from Launceston to Bodmin. This cross survives as a granite shaft set in a double-stepped base on the north-east verge of the road, the shaft having a distinct lean away from the road. The head of the cross is missing. The shaft is undecorated and rises 1.66m from its emergence at the base. It is of nearly square section, 0.26m thick and tapering slightly from 0.3m wide at the base to 0.25m wide near the top. On top of the shaft is a large rounded tenon joint by which the head was formerly fixed. The base of the shaft tapers inwards as it enters the top step of the base. The top step is almost square, measuring 0.64m by 0.63m, and is 0.24m high, with roughly rounded top corners. The bottom step of the base is a coarsely shaped boulder, sub-rectangular in plan, measuring 1.16m north-south and 1m east-west, and rises 0.36m above ground level. The cross is situated near the brow of a hill by a road linking Lewannick village to the important major east-west route between Bodmin and Launceston. This road passing through Lewannick forms part of an early thoroughfare from south-east Cornwall to the county's north coast. The cross also marks one of the main thoroughfares within Lewannick to its parish church, where there are several early Christian monuments. An area 2m wide beyond the base of the cross is included in the scheduling to ensure its protection. Within this area, the metalled surface of the modern road passing south-west of the cross is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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:


consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 17584,
Title: 1:50000 Ordnance Survey Map; Plymouth & Launceston Area (Landranger Series 201) Source Date: 1988 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

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