Medieval wayside cross at Castle Hill, 740m north east of Bodmin parish church
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1008168
Date first listed: 13-Feb-1958
Date of most recent amendment: 21-Jul-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: SX0785467539
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 medieval wayside cross has survived well, remaining as a marker on its original route and close to its original position. It has suffered only minor damage to one side of its head and is a good example of a wheel head cross, complete with head and shaft, though set on a modern base. Its location on the former course of the main regional route linking two important medieval administrative, ecclesiastical and market centres demonstrates the major role of wayside crosses and highlights the subsequent development of the road system.
The monument includes a medieval wayside cross surrounded by a 2m protective
margin, set beside the Old Callywith Road, at Castle Hill, Bodmin, by the
former main route linking Bodmin with Launceston in mid Cornwall. The cross is
Listed Grade II*.
The wayside cross survives with an upright granite shaft and a round `wheel'
head, set in a hexagonal modern base stone, measuring 2.3m in overall height.
The head measures 0.56m high by 0.61m wide and 0.25m thick. The head is
decorated on each principal face with a light relief equal-limbed cross, the
limbs having slightly expanded ends. The north face has a narrow raised
peripheral bead. A small curved portion of the head's eastern edge has
fractured away. The rectangular-section shaft measures 1.16m high and is 0.38m
wide by 0.23m thick. The shaft is set in a modern granite base stone of
flattened hexagonal shape in plan, measuring 1.02m east-west by 0.56m
north-south and 0.58m thick.
The wayside cross is situated on a verge at the centre of a minor junction on
the Old Callywith Road, formerly called Castle Street Hill. This was
originally the main route linking the two major medieval administrative,
ecclesiastical and market centres of Bodmin and Launceston. It also formed one
of the main routes into Cornwall from the rest of England, marked at intervals
by other medieval wayside crosses; this route remains of importance to the
present as the A30 trunk road, albeit following a markedly altered course.
This cross formerly stood by the same road as today but 110m to the south west
of its present location. In 1827, it was dismantled when a new boundary was
built and the cross was taken to cover a well in an adjoining meadow. It
remained there until 1925 when it was re-erected in the modern base stone in
its present location.
The surface of the modern metalled road south of the cross-base is excluded
from the scheduling but the ground beneath 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: 24287
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of North Cornwall, (1992)
consulted 1993, CCRA Register Entry for SX 06 NE/16 and SX 06 NE/16/1,
Given by letter, 8/93, Information given to MPPFW by Mr Andrew Langdon, (1993)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 06/16; Pathfinder Series 1347 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