The Three Holes Cross 550m west of Sandylands 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)
National Grid Reference:
SX 01174 73669

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 within 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 Three Holes Cross has survived substantially intact despite the fracture across the shaft. It is a good example of a wheel-head cross and displays several unusual features including the pierced head and the slightly curved shaft with its pecked decoration. It is one of only two crosses recorded with three perforations on the head, both of which share the unperforated lower sinking. Although re-erected in a modern base-slab on the opposite side of the highway to its original position, it remains as a marker at its original junction, demonstrating well the major role of wayside crosses and the longevity of many routes still in use.


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, known as the Three Holes Cross, situated at a junction of the same name on the A39 trunk road north east of Wadebridge in north Cornwall.

The Three Holes Cross, which is Listed Grade II, survives with a round granite `wheel' head on an upright granite shaft set in a massive modern granite base- slab, measuring 2m in overall height. The head, which measures 0.43m high by 0.44m wide and 0.13m thick, is decorated on each principal face by a central raised boss and four triangular sinkings, one to each side of the boss and one each above and below it; three of the triangular sinkings meet to perforate the head, giving the cross its name. The lowermost `hole' is not pierced right through, forming a deep recess on either side. The shaft measures 1.28m high and 0.28m wide, tapering in thickness from 0.25m at the base to 0.2m at the neck. The faces and edges of the shaft are slightly convex and the shaft has a slight `S-shaped' curve throughout its length. There are two small rounded projections on either side of the neck, just below the head. The shaft has a sloping fracture, 0.72m above the base, which was repaired by cementing the parts together in the later 19th century. The shaft bears slight traces of pecked decoration above the fracture, delimited by a faint transverse groove 0.25m below the head, on its south side. The modern sub-triangular base-slab measures 1.5m north-south by up to 2.18m east-west and is 0.39m thick.

The Three Hole Cross is situated on the north side of the A39T at the intersection of three routes. The course of the A39T follows the major medieval route through into Cornwall beside the north coast. At Three Hole Cross this route is crossed by two early local routes; one runs east through the nearby prehistoric and early medieval settlement at Castle Killibury from the medieval manor site at Burniere by the River Camel estuary; the other runs north west-south east towards Bodmin via the crossing point of the River Allen, 1.4km to the south east.

All earlier records confirm this cross's presence at this junction, though until 1937 it was located 20m to the ESE, on the opposite, south, side of the A39. After road alterations, it was re-erected in 1939 in its modern base-slab at its present location.

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
Henderson, C, The Cornish Church Guide, (1928)
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of North Cornwall, (1992)
AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 242, consulted 1993
Andrew, C.K.C., Plan showing position of Three Holes Cross in scheduling documentation, 1939, Surveyed 26/1/1939
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 17982,
Given by letter, 8/93, Information given to MPPFW by Mr Andrew Langdon, (1993)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 07/17; Pathfinder Series 1338 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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