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.
This wayside cross has survived reasonably well. Despite the loss of its base,
it remains a good example of a wheel-headed cross and has an unusual head
design. Although relocated, it remains near to its original position and
beside the major important route through the peninsula by whose former
course it lay. Its known former position on a church path demonstrates well
one of the major roles of wayside crosses. This is especially well-illustrated
in Lanivet parish as it retains an unusually extensive series of surviving
medieval wayside crosses on its church paths, of which this cross forms an
The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, known as the Woodley Cross,
surrounded by a 2m protective margin, situated 1km west of Lanivet beside the
former line of the main route through mid-Cornwall, opposite Fernside Farm.
The Woodley Cross survives with an upright granite shaft and a round 'wheel'
head set in a modern double-stepped base. The head measures 0.47m high by
0.55m wide and is 0.14m thick. Each principal face is decorated with an
equal-limbed cross whose quadrants, between the limbs, are defined by a
slightly raised triangular boss, projecting up to 0.01m from the surface of
the head and outlined by a shallow groove. The shaft stands 0.6m high,
tapering downwards in width from 0.31m at the neck to 0.28m at the base, and
tapering upwards in thickness from 0.25m at the base to 0.18m at the neck. The
shaft is cemented into a square double-stepped modern base. The upper step is
0.96m square and 0.15m high. The lower step is 1.5m long by 1.53m wide, its
upper surface set flush with the ground. Each step is constructed of dressed
granite slabs cemented together, except for a roughly-shaped slab forming the
south east block of the lower step.
In 1896 the historian Langdon recorded the Woodley Cross as lying flat on the
ground beside its medieval base-stone, close to and north of its present
position on land then owned by Woodley Farm. The cross was located on a track
leading directly towards the church at Lanivet and close to the main medieval
and later route along the Cornish peninsula. Prior to the modern enclosure of
this area, both the main route and the church track followed undefined courses
across the former downland in the vicinity of this cross. The cross and its
base were subsequently lost, then, in the 1920s, the shaft was noticed in use
as a gatepost. After being lost again, the shaft was rediscovered in 1972
lying in a field 0.15km south west of its present location. The shaft was lost
yet again but found in 1983. In that year it was re-erected at its present
location, near to its original position and beside the main medieval and later
The metalled surface of the modern road passing north west of the cross is
excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath 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.