St Protus's Cross, 330m east of Blisland church
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1010841
Date first listed: 29-Jul-1932
Date of most recent amendment: 03-Jan-1995
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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: SX1037973102
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 St Protus's Cross has survived well and it remains at or very near its original position. It forms a good example of a wheel-headed cross, complete with head, shaft and base and is unusual in combining the roles of a wayside cross with a holy-well marker. The position of this monument on an important local route linking Blisland and the neighbouring villages of western Bodmin Moor with the major route through Cornwall and the administrative centre of Bodmin demonstrates the longevity of much of the route network still in use. This monument also shows clearly the relationship between wayside crosses and early thoroughfares, evident at a local level by the cross's position marking a route to the parish church at Blisland.
The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, known as St Protus's or St
Pratt's Cross, and a protective margin around it. The cross is situated beside
a road linking Blisland, on the western edge of Bodmin Moor, with the main
east-west route, the A30, in north Cornwall. St Protus's Cross is also a Grade
II Listed Building.
St Protus's Cross survives as an upright granite cross with a round `wheel' head, set in a rectangular granite base. The overall height of the monument is 1.88m. The cross head measures 0.57m wide and 0.15m thick. Each principal face bears a relief equal-limbed cross, up to 0.4m across, with slightly expanded limbs. Both cross motifs have a slight inclination to the right. A raised bead 0.05m wide surrounds the outer edge of the head on both sides. The head has three rectangular bosses raised from its edge, one at the top and one on either side, projecting 0.04m; the boss on the north side is markedly wider than the others. The upper edge of the head is slightly fractured on its northern side. The shaft and head combined measure 1.7m high. The rectangular-section shaft measures 0.3m wide at the base, tapered from 0.35m at the neck, and it measures 0.2m thick at the base tapering slightly to 0.17m at the neck. The shaft is undecorated and has been fractured in the past 0.36m above the base, the join cemented together. The upper section of the shaft and head lean slightly away from the road. The rectangular base-slab measures 1m north-south by 0.86m east-west and is 0.18m high.
The St Protus's Cross is situated at or very close to its original position where it marked a holy well, St Protus's Well, also known as St Pratt's Well, which stood by the east side of the road running south east from Blisland village to the A30. This road linked Blisland and nearby villages on the western edge of Bodmin Moor to the important ancient east-west route through Cornwall and to the market town and administrative centre of Bodmin. The cross and well also stood on one of the main routes within the parish to the church at Blisland. The historian Langdon in 1896 records the original position of this cross over the holy well at this location. About 1840, the cross was toppled and re-erected close to its present position, but sunk to its neck in the ground, with only the upper 0.6m of the head and neck visible. In about 1897 the cross was dug up and re-erected in its present location.
The metalled surface and stepped kerb of the modern road passing west of the cross but within the area of the protective margin, and the roadside service shaft and its metal cover are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them is included.
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: 24303
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
consulted 1994, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3599,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 07/17; Bodmin Moor (west) Source Date: 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