Medieval wayside cross at Crafthole


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010857

Date first listed: 24-Apr-1939

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Jan-1995


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

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Sheviock

National Grid Reference: SX 36502 54205


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 wayside cross at Crafthole has survived well, despite being re-set on a later base. Although slightly relocated, this cross remains as a marker on its original routes and junction, demonstrating well the function of wayside crosses and showing clearly 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 at Crafthole and a protective margin around it near the south coast of Cornwall. The cross is located at the junction of the route north east to the parish church at Sheviock with the coastal route linking the small ports and villages.

The wayside cross survives as an upright granite head and shaft set on a modern three stepped base. The cross-head has unenclosed arms, a form called a `Latin' cross, its principal faces orientated east and west. The cross stands 0.79m high above the base. The head measures 0.49m across the side arms, each of which are 0.13m wide and 0.11m thick. The upper limb is 0.25m wide and 0.11m thick, but it has been fractured across, surviving only to a height of 0.11m. The shaft is 0.29m wide by 0.16m thick at the base tapering slightly to 0.25m wide by 0.12m thick below the side arms.

The modern base consists of three steps: the top step is oval in shape with cracked rendering, broken away on the east side to reveal brick beneath. This step is 0.48m wide by 0.38m thick and 0.14m high. This oval step is set on a round step constructed of large stones and cement, 0.78m wide and 0.25m high. This step is secured by a 0.07m thick layer of cement to the top of the bottom step, also constructed of large stones and cement, projecting 0.28m beyond the middle step, and set almost flush with the ground, rising 0.04m high above ground level.

This wayside cross is situated at a crossroads at Crafthole, formerly an important medieval centre licensed in AD 1315 to hold a market. Within the small town, the cross marks the point where the route from Portwrinkle on the coast to the parish church at Sheviock crosses the main route along the coast, running behind the coastal cliff. This latter route was formerly one of the main routes of entry into Cornwall from the ferry across Plymouth Sound. The cross was first recorded in 1775, and originally stood at the centre of the crossroads but it was moved to the side of the road for its safety. It was illustrated by the historian Langdon in 1896, showing it mounted on the lower two of the present basal steps; the upper step of rendered brick is a subsequent addition.

The modern concrete and cobbled surface surrounding the cross base, the metalled surface of the modern footpath to the north and east of the cross and the signpost to the east of the cross all lie within the area of the protective margin. These 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: 26234

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
consulted 1994, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 6337,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 25/35 Source Date: 1983 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing