Medieval wayside cross at Blisland


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010842

Date first listed: 22-Mar-1932

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Jan-1995


Ordnance survey map of Medieval wayside cross at Blisland
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Blisland

National Grid Reference: SX 09918 73253


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Bodmin Moor, the largest of the Cornish granite uplands, has long been recognised to have exceptional preservation of archaeological remains. The Moor has been the subject of detailed archaeological survey and is one of the best recorded upland landscapes in England. The extensive relict landscapes of prehistoric, medieval and post-medieval date provide direct evidence for human exploitation of the Moor from the earliest prehistoric period onwards. The well-preserved and often visible relationship between settlement sites, field systems, ceremonial and funerary monuments as well as later industrial remains provides significant insights into successive changes in the pattern of land use through time. 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 which might have a more specifically religious function, including providing access to religious sites for parishioners and funeral processions. Wayside crosses vary considerably in form and decoration but several regional types have been identified. The Cornish wayside crosses form one such group. The commonest type includes a round, or `wheel', head on the faces of which various forms of cross were carved. The design was sometimes supplemented with a relief figure of Christ. Less common forms include the `Latin' cross, where the cross-head itself is shaped within the arms of an unenclosed cross and, much rarer, the simple slab with a low-relief cross on both faces. Over 400 crosses of all types are recorded in Cornwall. Of the 35 surviving on Bodmin Moor, 21 are recorded as wayside crosses. Wayside crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval routeways, settlement patterns and the development of sculptural traditions. 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 cross in Blisland village has survived well and in its original location. The overall wedge-shape of this cross and its head motif are rare among wayside crosses. Its position at a junction of four roads on important early regional and local routes demonstrates well the relationship of wayside crosses and early thoroughfares, evident at a local level in the cross's function as a waymarker within the parish to the church at Blisland.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross and a protective margin around it, situated at a junction of four roads on the village green in Blisland on the western fringe of Bodmin Moor in north Cornwall. The cross is also a Grade II Listed Building.

The cross in Blisland village survives as an upright granite slab, 0.97m high, the shaft firmly set in the ground. The cross is wedge-shaped, the head measuring up to 0.38m wide and 0.2m thick, with a curved upper edge and straight tapered sides, merging smoothly with the shaft which tapers to 0.22m wide and 0.18m thick at the base. Each principal face of the head bears a relief Latin cross within a deep sub-rectangular recess, the cross motif measuring 0.26m high by 0.2m wide. This recess is bordered by a wide raised bead along the rounded top, tapering sides and base of the recess, except on the left-hand side of the eastern face. The lower edge of the basal beading demarcates the head from the remainder of the shaft. The curved upper edge of the head meets the side edges at a slight, 0.05m wide projection. The upper edge of the cross head has a copper alloy pin, 0.01m in diameter set in the centre of its curve. The rectangular-section shaft is decorated on the eastern face by a slight, eroded, midline groove extending towards the head for at least 0.31m from 0.15m above ground level.

The cross is situated at the staggered junction of four roads at the western end of the village green in Blisland village on the western fringes of Bodmin Moor. It has always been recorded at this location since its first depiction by the Ordnance Survey in 1881. This junction marks the crossing point of routes linking the towns and settlements of the north west coastal strip of Cornwall and western Bodmin Moor with one of the main early east-west routes across Cornwall, now the A30, and its early link with the crossing point of the River Camel at Wadebridge. On a local level, this cross is one of an unusually large number of medieval wayside crosses within this parish which marked the main routes to the church, situated 175m south east of this monument.

The metalled surface of the modern roads passing by the cross and within the area of the protective margin are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath 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: 24304

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Preston-Jones, A.E., AM 107 FMW report for CO 201, (1989)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 07/17; Bodmin Moor (west) Source Date: Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing