Carminow Cross, south east of Bodmin
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1008177
Date first listed: 22-Mar-1932
Date of most recent amendment: 06-Sep-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: SX 08840 65689
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 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 Carminow Cross has survived well, the original head and shaft fragment retaining their earlier recorded form despite being mounted on a modern shaft and base. It is the second largest cross-head in Cornwall and has several rare features, including the combination of neck projections with a four-holed cross, the pointed shape of those projections, and the incised and pitted decoration, which has indicated an early date for the cross. The cross is also unusual in its careful execution and the extent of its elaborate decoration. The Carminow Cross demonstrates well the varied roles that wayside crosses may serve and, as a parish bound stone, it received a rare mention in an early 17th century terrier. Although relocated from its original position, it remains a marker at the same junction to which it was formerly adjacent, showing clearly both the longevity of many routes still in use and the development of parts of the road network.
The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, known as the Carminow Cross,
situated on a large roundabout at the intersection of slip-roads linking the
A30T and A38T trunk roads and the nearby town of Bodmin in mid-Cornwall.
The Carminow Cross, which is Listed Grade II, survives with a medieval round
`wheel' head and upper shaft cemented on a modern lower shaft and double-
stepped base. The cross measures 3.65m in overall height. The head and
original upper portion of shaft measure 1.22m high. The head measures 0.9m in
diameter and is fully pierced by four triangular holes creating an equal-
limbed cross with widely-splayed arms enclosed within an outer ring. The head
is decorated on both principal faces. Each face bears a double bead on the
outer ring. The north east face also bears five raised round bosses, one at
the intersection of the cross-motif's limbs and a smaller boss on each limb.
The south west face has a large central round boss and the arms are decorated
with many small shallow pits. A study of the unusual pitted decoration has
indicated an early 10th century date for the design.
Immediately below the head, the neck has a relatively small pointed projection
on each side. The original rectangular-section upper shaft is 0.32m high,
0.28m thick and tapers in width from 0.48m at its junction with the modern
lower shaft to 0.45m at the neck. The modern shaft is 2.01m high, tapering to
merge with the upper shaft from 0.51m wide by 0.37m thick at the base. A
raised bead runs the length of the shaft beside all four corners. On both
principal faces below the head, the original upper shaft bears a double
incised line along each side, curving inwards at the top, accompanied by
further shallow pitting. The shaft is set in a modern double-stepped granite
base. The upper step measures 1m long by 0.78m wide and is 0.24m high. The
lower step is 1.6m long by 1.35m wide and 0.14m high.
The medieval upper part of the Carminow Cross was originally situated 100m
south of its present location where it marked the junction of the three
parishes of Bodmin, Lanhydrock and Cardinham. The cross was named as a bound
stone, `Carmynowe's Crosse', on an account (called a terrier) of the bounds of
the parish of Cardinham dated AD 1613. The cross also marked an adjacent
junction on the main early ridge-top road linking St Austell to the south
with the principal route through the Cornish peninsula as it approaches
western Bodmin Moor. The historian Langdon recorded the upper part of the
cross in its present form in 1890 while still in its former position.
In 1894 it was re-erected on its modern shaft and base almost at its present
location, where a major road junction developed between the St Austell route
and the road linking Bodmin with Liskeard along the River Fowey valley,
eventually the A38 trunk road. The junction rose further in prominence when,
in 1975, the principal route through the peninsula, the A30 trunk road,
by-passed Bodmin along a line close to the east of the cross. The junction
containing the cross was converted into a large roundabout to serve this new
meeting point of two of the three trunk roads in the Cornish peninsula. During
the construction of the roundabout, the cross was moved 2m to the south west
to stand at its present position a little east of the centre of the
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: 24301
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of North Cornwall, (1992)
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR: CCRA Register Entry for SX 06 NE/26,
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR: CCRA Register Entry for SX 06 NE/26/1,
Scheduling documentation, AM 107s and file letters for CO 154, consulted 1993
Title: 1": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Map; sheet 30; Camelford Source Date: 1865 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
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