Medieval wayside cross on Laneast Downs, 270m SSW of High Hall Farm
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1007954
Date first listed: 09-Sep-1946
Date of most recent amendment: 18-Jan-1994
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: SX 23475 85499
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
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 wayside cross on the Laneast Downs has survived well in its original position as a church-path marker. It is a good example of a wheel-head cross with its head and shaft complete. The large elliptical head enclosing a relief latin cross is unusual, as is the use of Polyphant stone rather than granite. The location of this cross on a parish church path demonstrates well one of the major functions of wayside crosses.
The monument includes a medieval wayside cross situated beside a modern road
across the Laneast Downs and on an ancient track within the parish to the
church at Laneast in eastern Cornwall.
The cross survives as an upright slab of Polyphant stone, 1.9m in overall
height. The cross has a large 'wheel' head, elliptical in shape and measuring
0.69m high by 0.58m wide. Both principal faces have a latin cross carved in
relief against a slightly recessed background, leaving a narrow bead around
the periphery of the head. At the neck of the cross, a raised squared
projection, 0.05m long and 0.13m wide, emerges from each side-edge of the
shaft. The rectangular section shaft is untapered, 0.48m wide and 0.15m thick,
rises 1.22m from ground level to the projections at the neck, and is
undecorated. The shaft emerges directly from the ground, without a base-stone
but with several large packing slabs visible in the surface in the immediate
vicinity of the shaft's base.
The cross is situated on a footpath marking an early route to the church
within Laneast parish, at the point where the footpath leaves the unenclosed
Laneast Downs to enter the enclosed farmland to the north-east, and where the
path crosses a minor road passing along the north-east edge of the Downs.
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: 24263
Legacy System: RSM
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; SX 28/38; Pathfinder Series 1326, Launceston 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