Holyway Cross, 550m east of Hicksmill


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)
South Petherwin
National Grid Reference:
SX 27279 82324

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.

The Holyway Cross has survived well, remaining as a marker on its original route and junction despite being slightly re-located. It forms a good example of a decorated wheel-headed cross with its head and shaft complete. The markedly concave sides of the limbs on the relief cross and the large shoulder projections are unusual. The location of this cross beside a major junction on one of the most important medieval and later routes through Cornwall, marked also by other medieval wayside crosses, demonstrates well the relationship between such crosses and early routes and shows clearly the continuity of many major thoroughfares. This cross also marks one of several routes in the parish to the church at South Petherwin, showing the differing purposes which wayside crosses served.


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, the Holyway Cross, situated beside a junction on a major route into Cornwall on its approach to north-east Bodmin Moor. The Holyway Cross, which is also a listed building grade II, survives as an upright granite cross, 1.85m in overall height. The cross has a round or 'wheel' head, 0.56m in diameter, displaying an equal-limbed cross carved in relief on both principal faces. The limbs of the carved cross have concave sides, widely expanded towards terminal edges concentric with the outline of the head. The terminal edge of the lower limb on each face meets the upper end of a relief midline rib that extends down each principal face of the shaft for 1.02m. Immediately below the head, the shoulders of the cross are marked by a raised projection from each side, extending 0.06m from the north side and 0.05m from the south side of the shaft. From the lower edge of these projections, narrow beads extend down the sides of the cross shaft for 0.95m. The rectangular section shaft is 0.23m thick and tapers slightly in width from a maximum 0.44m near the base, where the beading ends, to 0.39m below the projections at the neck. The shaft also tapers to its base over its lowermost visible 0.27m. Although clearly visible on both faces, the relief decoration on the cross is more worn on its eastern face than on its western face. The location of the Holyway Cross by this road junction is attested in records dating back to the 19th century, though it has been subject to several minor re-locations about the junction. The cross was erected on a new, buried, base-slab in its present position in 1950. The cross is situated beside the main medieval route into Cornwall from the crossing of the River Tamar 8.5km to the ENE near Launceston, a major administrative centre and market town during the medieval period. This route is marked at intervals by several other medieval wayside crosses and was later followed by the post-medieval turnpike road and by the modern A30 trunk road. The cross also marks the junction where the road to Camelford diverges west from this route to pass around the northern fringe of Bodmin Moor.

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)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of North Cornwall, (1992)
Andrew, C.K.C., AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 291, 1938,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 17581,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 28/38; Pathfinder Series 1326 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

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