Medieval cross base at St Ewe


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010849

Date first listed: 07-Feb-1995


Ordnance survey map of Medieval cross base at St Ewe
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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. Ewe

National Grid Reference: SW 97780 46073


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.

This medieval cross-base is of unusual design and survives in its original location at the focus of parish church paths. Together with the marking of one of those church paths by another surviving medieval cross, this cross base demonstrates well the role of wayside crosses, despite the loss of its shaft and head. The reuse of the base as a support for the post-medieval sundial shows one form of the secular post-medieval development of wayside and village focal points.


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


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross base and a protective margin around it, situated by the side of the road at the centre of St Ewe in southern central Cornwall. The cross base is surmounted by a post-medieval sundial shaft and stands on a large composite basal structure. Both the cross base and the sundial shaft are Listed Grade II. The cross base survives as a square granite block supporting the post-medieval sundial shaft and set on a substantial post-medieval composite stepped base; the overall structure including the cross base slab measures 2.36m in height. The cross base measures 0.71m north-south by 0.72m east-west and is 0.3m high. The upper edges have a chamfer 0.06m wide. At the centre of the upper surface is a near-square socket measuring 0.28m north-south by 0.27m east-west. The cross base remains in the same location as indicated by 19th century records; it appears here on the 1840 tithe map of St Ewe, and the historian Langdon in 1896 describes it as forming part of a two-stepped base supporting the lower part of a cross-shaft. Subsequent to these records, the cross base, while remaining in situ, has been reused to support a post-medieval sundial whose square section shaft and a cuboid head are cut from a single block of granite. The sundial rises 1.12m high above the base. The head is 0.23m high and 0.36m wide by 0.32m thick, the upper surface incised with a narrow groove 0.05m within the outer edge along all four sides and a 0.05m diameter filled hole at each corner, originally for securement of the missing brass sundial. The outer edges of the head project 0.03m beyond the sundial shaft. The square section shaft is 0.89m high and 0.29m wide by 0.25m thick, set in the socket of the medieval cross-base. The cross base is set on top of an unusually large composite, two-stepped basal structure. The upper surface of this structure, around the cross base, consists of slate and quartz cobbles in cement, sloping outwards to a kerb of large granite blocks. This kerb forms the edge of the upper step, measuring 2.62m north-south by 2.8m east-west and is 0.33m high. The lower step measures 3.5m north-south by 2.95m east-west and is 0.56m high. This step is constructed of large granite blocks whose underlying rubble has been faced by a recent wall of mortared slate masonry. On the west side of this composite base, a mounting block of three steps formed by three large granite blocks rises from the north west corner to the cobbled upper surface. The cross-base is situated to the north of the churchyard wall in St Ewe, at the focus of the church paths within the parish, one of which, at Beacon Cross, 800m to the south east, is marked by another wayside cross. The surfaces of the modern metalled road north of the cross base and of the tracks to the east, south and west of the cross base, which are 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: 24307

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
consulted 1994, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 24274,
p.99; Crosses & cross sites No.3, Sheppard, P, Parochial Checklist Of Antiquities; Parish Of St Ewe, (1967)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 94/SX 04; Mevagissey and Tregony Source Date: 1984 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing