The Prior's Cross at Washaway


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011012

Date first listed: 22-Mar-1932

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Jul-1994


Ordnance survey map of The Prior's Cross at Washaway
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Egloshayle

National Grid Reference: SX 03750 69771


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 with 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 original head and upper shaft of the Prior's Cross head have survived well and, despite the loss of the original shaft, this cross provides one of only two known examples of a wheel head cross decorated with a Fleur de Lys motif and the only one with that design on both principal faces. Although now relocated from its original position, it remains a marker on the same important medieval route, demonstrating well the major function of wayside crosses and shows clearly the longevity of such routes still in use.


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


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, known as the Prior's Cross, situated at Washaway village, beside the main road linking Bodmin with Wadebridge in northern mid-Cornwall. The Prior's Cross which is Listed Grade II, survives with a medieval round 'wheel' head and integral upper shaft fragment mounted on a tall modern shaft, measuring 3.24m in overall height. The granite head measures 0.68m wide and 0.23m thick and is decorated on each principal face with a relief 'Fleur de Lys' motif within a narrow raised perimeter bead. The sides of the head also bear a bead along each edge. The Fleur de Lys motif was a symbol of the Virgin Mary and is considered to have been chosen as the cross motif by the medieval priory of Bodmin who owned the present and former sites of this cross. From the base of the head, the bead continues along the faces and sides of the integral upper 0.3m of the shaft, however on the faces, a slight step enlarges the groove of the bead into a broad channel to delineate a broad raised midline. This original upper portion of the shaft measures 0.4m wide by 0.23m thick at the neck. It is cemented onto a modern granite rectangular-section shaft which tapers evenly to the neck from 0.49m wide and 0.37m thick at the base. The channels forming the raised midline on the principal faces continue down the upper 0.25m of the shaft, then revert to a groove defining a bead along the edge down to 0.85m above ground level. The central portion of the modern shaft between the beading is dressed with a coarsely pecked finish. The Prior's Cross is situated at a fork on the main ridge-top route linking the important medieval centres of Bodmin and Wadebridge. The route also linked the medieval Bodmin priory with its manor and chapel at Pendavey. The surviving original cross head and upper shaft is considered to be the 'Prior's Cross' recorded by the antiquary Hals in 1685 and 1736 at Mount Charles, 0.9km to the SSE along the same route, where it marked the junction with another major route to the north around the western edge of Bodmin Moor, along which is the only other known example of a cross bearing the 'Fleur de Lys' motif. At Mount Charles, the cross also marked the parish boundary between Lanivet and Egloshayle. The cross was subsequently removed, later to be found in the adjacent Dunsmere Woods. In the later 19th century, the original head and upper shaft were re-erected against a wall at Washaway village, close to its present site. It was erected on the modern shaft at its present location in 1935. The modern GPO marker post to the south 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: 24285

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Henderson, C, The Cornish Church Guide, (1928)
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of North Cornwall, (1992)
AM7 scheduling documentation for CO 156, consulted 1993
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 26033,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 06/16; Pathfinder Series 1347 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing