Trehan Cross, at Trehan village


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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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 40449 58114

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 Trehan Cross has survived well as a good example of a Latin cross and it remains as a marker on its original route and junction. The location of this cross beside a junction of routes linking several important medieval sites nearby, both religious and secular, demonstrates well the major role of wayside crosses and the longevity of many routes still in use. The routes marked by this cross were also of importance on a larger scale in providing access to the major early river crossings over the estuary of the River Tamar.


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, known as the Trehan Cross, at Trehan near the estuary of the River Lynher in south-east Cornwall. The Trehan Cross survives as an upright granite 'Latin' cross, a form whose head has unenclosed arms, measuring 0.7m in overall height. The principal faces of the cross are orientated towards the north-east and south-west. The head measures 0.42m across its side arms, which project 0.12m beyond the cross shaft on either side. The upper limb projects 0.16m above the side arms, and has a small shallow hollow in the top. The shaft is 0.39m high to the base of the side arms, and is of chamfered rectangular section, 0.24m wide and 0.12m thick, the wide chamfers being 0.09m wide. The limbs also are chamfered along all edges except those around their terminal faces. The Trehan Cross is situated at a junction on the northern edge of the hamlet of Trehan, the site of a chapel recorded in the early 14th century. The cross is located beside the direct route within the parish from Trehan to the church at St Stephens by Saltash to the east, fording a tributary of the River Lynher at Forder. Beyond the church at Saltash, this route leads to one of the major early crossing points of the River Tamar estuary. Overlooking Forder, beside that route and 600m ESE of this cross, is Trematon Castle, one of the principal shell keep castles of the earls, later dukes, of Cornwall. The route running south from this cross leads to an early crossing point on the River Lynher estuary at Antony Passage, near which, 900m SSE of this cross, is another chapel recorded in the early 14th century.

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
Halliday, F E, A History of Cornwall, (1975)
Henderson, C, The Cornish Church Guide, (1928)
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 6242.01,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 6242.02,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 45/55; Pathfinder Series 1356 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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