Brunnion Cross, at Brunnion Carn


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:
SW 50373 36005

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 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.

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
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
By conversation and letter, 8/93, Information given to MPPFW by Mr Andrew Langdon, (1993)
consulted 1993, CCRA entries for SW 53 NW/14 & SW 53 NW/14/1,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map, SW33/43/part 53; Pathfinder Series 1364 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

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