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.
The Brunnion Cross has survived well as a good example of a wheel-head cross,
retaining its original head and an uncommon late style of shaft. Although
slightly re-located, earlier records confirm this cross as very close to its
present location where it remains as a marker on its original route linking
the north and south coasts of Penwith, demonstrating well the major function
of wayside crosses and the longevity of many routes still in use.
The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, known as the Brunnion Cross,
situated at Brunnion Carn on a minor road east of Nancledra in west Cornwall.
The Brunnion Cross survives with an upright granite shaft and a round 'wheel'
head set in a modern stepped base, measuring 2.31m in overall height. The head
measures 0.29m high by 0.51m wide and 0.2m thick. Each principal face of the
head bears a relief Latin cross whose lower limb extends down the full length
of the shaft. The relief cross measures 0.44m across the side arms and the
upper limb is 0.14m long. The shaft is octagonal in section with corner
chamfers 0.1m wide, a feature indicating a relatively late date in the
development of medieval crosses. The shaft measures 1.4m high, 0.26m thick and
tapers slightly in width from 0.39m at the base to 0.37m at the neck. The only
decoration on the shaft comprises the extended lower limb of the relief cross.
The shaft is cemented into a modern double-stepped granite base, each step
being a composite of several blocks cemented together. The upper step measures
1.38m long by 1m wide and 0.32m high. The lower step measures 1.62m long by
1.32m wide and is 0.3m high.
The Brunnion Cross is situated at the west side of the minor road as it
crosses the top of a hill at Brunnion Carn. Until the earlier 20th century the
cross was located 5m south of its present location, at the centre of a former
pond which had been drained when it was recorded by the historian Langdon in
1896. The cross marks one of several routes linking St Ives on the north coast
with Mount's Bay on the south and is 0.55km south west of the hamlet of
Brunnion, the site of a broadly contemporary chapel licensed in AD 1398.
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.