Nun Careg Cross, 400m south-west of Boleigh Farm


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. Buryan
National Grid Reference:
SW 43300 24604

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 Nun Careg Cross has survived well, earlier records confirming it in its present location. Its large head is an unusual feature. The location of this cross beside a main route within the area and a church-route within the parish, both marked by other wayside crosses, demonstrates well the major functions of wayside crosses and shows clearly the longevity of many routes still in use.


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, the Nun Careg Cross, and a 2m protective margin, situated on a road which follows the southern coastal belt of Penwith in west Cornwall. The Nun Careg Cross which is Listed Grade II, survives with an upright granite shaft and large round, or 'wheel', head, measuring 1.19m in overall height and situated on a wide grass verge by the side of the road. The head measures 0.48m high, 0.63m wide and 0.17m thick. The north-west face displays a light relief equal-limbed cross with widely expanded limbs, considerably inclined to the right, and with a perimeter bead linking the extremities of the limbs. The limbs of the cross expand in width from 0.13m wide near the centre to 0.2m at their outer edges. The lower limb of the cross extends down onto the shaft where it is outlined by a shallow groove to form a rectangular panel, 0.31m long and 0.2m wide. Superimposed on the relief cross at the intersection of the limbs is a small, recessed, equal armed cross, 0.3m long by 0.29m wide overall, each limb being 0.07m wide. The south-eastern face of the Nun Careg Cross head bears an equal-limbed cross with slightly splayed ends to the limbs, inclined to the left and with no perimeter bead. The lower half of this cross motif is incised whereas the upper half is carved in light relief. The rectangular section shaft rises 0.71m from ground level to the neck of the cross head, and tapers in width from 0.43m at the base to 0.38m at the neck, tapering in thickness from 0.27m at the base to 0.15m at the neck. The shaft is plain and undecorated except for the small rectangular panel on the north-west face described above. The Nun Careg Cross stands in its original location beside a road running parallel to the south coast of the Penwith peninsula and marked at intervals by several other medieval wayside crosses. The cross acted as a way marker within the parish to the church at St Buryan, the site of a major Celtic monastery, traditionally founded by Athelstan in the early tenth century. The church paths within this parish are marked by an unusually high number of medieval wayside crosses. The surface of the metalled road passing north-west of the cross is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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)
Olson, L, Early Monasteries in Cornwall, (1989)
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 28203,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 32/42; Pathfinder Series 1368 Source Date: 1980 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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