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 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 Treslea Downs Cross has survived reasonably well despite the evident loss
of part of its shaft. The rectangular head is highly unusual and the use only
of sinkings to form the cross motif is uncommon. Although relocated
to the opposite side of the road from its former position, it remains as a
marker at its original junction, demonstrating well the major role of wayside
crosses. Together with the other medieval wayside crosses, bridges and the
inscribed stones along the major early routeway on which it lies, it forms an
integral part of a network of surviving medieval monuments that demonstrate
the longevity of many routes still in use and the subsequent developments of
the road system.
The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, known as the Treslea Downs
Cross, surrounded by a 2m protective margin, situated at a minor road junction
near the Treslea Downs on the southern edge of Bodmin Moor in south east
The Treslea Downs Cross survives with a rectangular head and a short shaft set
in a large triangular base-stone, measuring 0.73m in overall height. The head
measures 0.32m high, 0.41m wide and 0.13m thick, is rectangular in shape and
slightly off-centre on the shaft, projecting further beyond the shaft on the
south east side than it does to the north west. Each principal face on the
head bears four triangular sinkings defining a diagonally-set cross, more worn
on the north east face than on the south west. The rectangular-section shaft
rises 0.23m high from the base-stone to the neck and is 0.26m wide, tapering
in thickness from 0.17m at the base to 0.13m at the neck. The shaft is
cemented into a large sub-triangular granite base-stone, 1.05m long by 1.1m
wide and 0.18m deep. The base has a larger socket to receive the shaft than
the size of the present shaft that occupies it, extending 0.12m beyond the
north west edge of the shaft.
The Treslea Downs Cross is situated beside the junction of two minor roads
near the southern edge of Bodmin Moor. The ENE-WSW road at this junction was
of importance in the medieval period as the main east-west route skirting the
southern edge of Bodmin Moor, marked by several other medieval wayside crosses
and including broadly contemporary bridges along its course. Two early
medieval inscribed stones are located 0.66km to the WSW, beside the next
junction along the route. Although now located within enclosed land a little
south of the Treslea Downs, the position of this cross was formerly at the
southern edge of the unenclosed Downs, marking the point along that edge and
the east-west route where a track ran south towards the River Fowey valley;
this track, now the other minor road at the junction, is also marked by a
medieval wayside cross. Earlier records confirm the presence of this cross
beside this junction, but in 1932 the cross was relocated from the
south west corner of the junction to a point 3m east of its present position
on the north side. It was removed in 1989 and re-erected the short distance
west to its present position in May 1991.
The surfaces of the modern metalled road south of the cross and the modern
metalled drive east of the cross are excluded from the scheduling but the
ground beneath them is included.
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.