Boskenna Gate Cross


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010918

Date first listed: 01-Nov-1950

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Aug-1994


Ordnance survey map of Boskenna Gate 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. Buryan

National Grid Reference: SW 42023 24080


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 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 Boskenna Gate Cross has survived well and earlier records confirm its presence at this location by its original route and junction. The minor damage evident from the repaired fracture has not materially detracted from the cross and it remains a good example of a wheel headed cross complete with head, shaft and base. The location of this cross beside a main route at the junction with a church path within the parish demonstrates well the major roles of wayside crosses and shows clearly the longevity of many routes still in use. This is illustrated especially clearly in St Buryan parish as it retains an unusually complete series of medieval wayside crosses, of which this monument forms an integral part.


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


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, known as the Boskenna Gate Cross, surrounded by a 2m protective margin, situated at the junction of a track, now marked by a public footpath, running south east from St Buryan where it meets a road around the southern periphery of the Penwith peninsula in west Cornwall. The Boskenna Gate Cross, which is Listed Grade II, survives with an upright granite shaft and a round 'wheel' head set in a rectangular granite base, measuring 1.48m in overall height. The shaft has a cemented transverse fracture immediately below the head. The head measures 0.59m high, 0.58m wide and is 0.24m thick. The north east principal face of the cross is decorated with a relief Latin cross, 0.45m wide and 1.43m long, its side-arms centred on the head and the lowermost limb extending the length of the shaft and expanding slightly towards the base. The head has a narrow peripheral bead which extends a short distance down the shaft on each side before returning to meet the extended limb of the cross motif. The south west principal face bears a similar relief cross design but on this face, the lower limb is not evident extended along the shaft. The rectangular-section shaft measures 0.89m high by 0.4m wide and 0.25m thick. The shaft is centrally positioned and cemented into a large sub-circular base-stone measuring 1.5m long by 1.31m wide, set with its upper surface at ground level. The Boskenna Gate Cross is situated beside the north west side of the peripheral road around the peninsula, an ancient route marked at intervals by other surviving medieval crosses. The cross marks the junction on that route with one of several church paths radiating into the parish from the church and village of St Buryan. This path and most of the others are also marked by other broadly contemporary wayside crosses, forming waymarkers to the church at St Buryan, the site of a major Celtic monastery traditionally founded by Athelstan in the early 10th century. The metalled surface of the modern road south east of the cross is 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: 24295

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Olson, L, Early Monasteries in Cornwall, (1989)
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 28183 & 28183.1,
Given by letter, 8/93, Information from Mr Andrew Langdon, (1993)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 32/42; Pathfinder Series 1368 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing