Medieval wayside cross on Fore Street, Polruan


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010859

Date first listed: 20-Jan-1975

Date of most recent amendment: 13-Feb-1995


Ordnance survey map of Medieval wayside cross on Fore Street, Polruan
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Lanteglos

National Grid Reference: SX 12761 50732


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 wayside cross on Fore Street, Polruan has survived reasonably well and though the monument has long been surmounted by the head from a different cross, the shaft and base remain as markers on their original junction on this route of regional and local significance. This monument also marks a way within the parish to the church and to St Saviour's Chapel, demonstrating well the major roles 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, situated at a junction on the main road approaching the fishing town of Polruan on the south east side of the Fowey estuary on the south coast of Cornwall. Adjacent to the west of the cross is a granite trough, now filled with concrete, which was depicted together with the cross in antiquarian records as an arrangement to collect water from a stream at this location. The wayside cross survives as a composite of two former medieval crosses: the granite head of one cross is set on an octagonal shaft and base of Pentewan stone from another cross. The cross head has unenclosed arms, a form called a `Latin' cross, its principal faces orientated to the north and south. The cross head measures 0.15m high by 0.37m wide and 0.10m thick; the lower edges of the side arms and base of the head have been shaped to fit the top of the shaft. At the top of the upper limb an iron nut and stud project, the upper end of an iron stud having been driven through the head to attach it to the shaft. The octagonal section shaft is 1.8m high and 0.28m wide by 0.28m thick; each of the eight sides is 0.12m wide. The upper end of the shaft has a repaired fracture, with a cement joint 0.14m below the top of the shaft. The base of the shaft is decorated with a moulded foot, 0.2m high, sloping out from the north west, south west, south east and north east sides. The shaft is cemented into a large base slab, 0.35m high and measuring 0.74m north-south by 0.73m east-west. The upper edge of the base is octagonal in plan. Below the north west, south west, south east and north east faces of the upper edge is a moulded rib above a moulded step, the step projecting 0.16m beyond the rib, giving the base a square plan at its lower edge. The base is mounted on a square modern concrete plinth, 0.97m east-west by 0.83m north-south and 0.14m high, with an upper edge chamfer 0.12m wide. This cross was first recorded at this location on a map of 1771. In 1872, the historian Blight illustrated the cross on a platform over a stream which poured into an adjacent trough. This stream is no longer active and its course has subsequently been covered over. The trough is a concrete filled granite block, measuring 1.79m east-west by 0.8m north-south and 0.25m high, which is now located from 0.06m to the west of the cross's base. Blight's record indicates the composite assembly of the head, shaft and base as survives today; the historian Baird has suggested that the cross head came from the medieval St Saviour's chapel on the headland overlooking Polruan, 240m to the WNW. This wayside cross is situated at the south east edge of Polruan, towards the upper end of a steep hill on the only road leading out of this town, an important fishing town and port during the medieval period and one of the principal ferry points across the Fowey estuary on the route along the south Cornish coast. This road was also the route linking the port with its parish church at Lanteglos. The cross is located at the junction of this road with a branch to the west leading to the site of St Saviour's Chapel on the headland.

The modern bench immediately to the east of the cross but within the area of the protective margin is excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath is included. The cross is Listed Grade II.

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: 26236

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Quiller Couch, L, Quiller Couch, M, Ancient and Holy Wells of Cornwall, (1894)
consulted 1994, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 26738,
consulted 1994, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 26738.01,
Preston-Jones, A.E., AM 107 FMW report for CO 930, (1990)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 05/15 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 05/15 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing