St Erth Churchtown cross


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010845

Date first listed: 22-Mar-1932

Date of most recent amendment: 03-Jan-1995


Ordnance survey map of St Erth Churchtown cross
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: St. Erth

National Grid Reference: SW 55071 35131


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

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 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 medieval wayside cross at St Erth has survived well as an unusually large cross displaying a unique form and with a rare motif on each face of the head. The cross remains at its original position at the focus of the village and as a marker on one of the routes through the parish to the church path where it is crossed by an east-west route to the important bridging point to the west, demonstrating well the major role of wayside crosses and the longevity of many routes still in use.


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 at the main crossroads in the centre of St Erth village in west Cornwall. The cross survives as an upright granite shaft and head set in a rectangular granite base stone. The overall height of the cross is 2.68m. The head is rectangular; its north and south principal faces are slightly wider at the top with the sides tapering inwards towards the shaft. The head is 0.58m high and up to 0.48m wide by 0.36m thick. Each principal face is decorated. The south principal face bears a relief figure of Christ with outstretched arms within a shallow recess framed by a broad bead around the perimeter of the head. The north principal face bears a relief Latin cross with slightly splayed ends to the limbs, also set within a broad perimeter bead except beyond the lower edge of the recess which extends flush with the shaft below. The head projects 0.05m beyond the face of the shaft along the southern face and eastern side only. The shaft is 1.26m high and tapers slightly to the base, from 0.39m wide by 0.31m thick at the neck to 0.37m wide by 0.27m thick at the base. Each corner of the shaft has a chamfer 0.08m wide. The shaft is cemented into a rectangular base stone measuring 1.16m east-west by 0.94m north-south and 0.42m high. The upper corners of the base are rounded and a curved incised line delineates each corner. On the south face of the base, a worn modern inscription of capital letter inserts reads: `This site is dedicated to the parishioners of St Erth and entrusted to their care by John Lord St Levan Lord of the Manor of Treloweth in this parish 1891'. The St Erth cross is set slightly back from the north west angle of the main staggered cross-roads in the centre of St Erth village, at the point where the route from the north of the parish to the church is crossed by an east-west route heading for the bridging point of the River Hayle, immediately west of the village. There are no records that this cross has ever been moved from its present position, where it was illustrated by the historian Blight in 1872. At that time it was contained within the grounds of a Wesleyan meeting house and the lowermost 0.72m of the shaft and base were embedded in a mound of earth. In 1891 the boundary wall of the meeting house was set back and the earth mound removed, without disturbing the cross itself; the inscription on the south face of the cross records the completion of these works and the transfer of responsibility for the cross to the parishioners of St Erth by Lord St Leven. The modern cemented cobble and concrete surfaces surrounding the cross base and the surface of the metalled road passing east of the cross but 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: 26241

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 33/43/part 53; Pathfinder 1364 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing