Fenton Pits Cross, 210m WSW of Penburthen Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012507

Date first listed: 05-Apr-1932

Date of most recent amendment: 12-Jul-1994


Ordnance survey map of Fenton Pits Cross, 210m WSW of Penburthen Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Lanivet

National Grid Reference: SX 06107 62969


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 Fenton Pits Cross has survived well and, despite being relocated, it remains on its original route. It forms a good example of a wheel-headed cross, complete with head, shaft and base. Its position on an important ancient route across the Cornish peninsula, in use since the prehistoric period and later forming a major medieval pilgrimage route before reverting to a modern minor road, demonstrates the longevity of many routes still in use and the development of the road network. This also shows clearly the relationship between wayside crosses and early thoroughfares, evident at a more detailed level by the cross's position marking a route to the parish church at Lanivet.


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


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, known as the Fenton Pits Cross, surrounded by a 2m protective margin, situated near a minor road junction in the hamlet of Fenton Pits, south east of Lanivet in mid-Cornwall. The cross is located on an ancient route across the Cornish peninsula from Padstow on the north coast to Fowey on the south coast. The Fenton Pits Cross survives as an upright granite cross with a round 'wheel' head set in a groundfast granite boulder. The cross head measures 0.4m high by 0.59m wide and 0.16m thick. Each principal face bears a relief equal- limbed cross with widely expanded limbs whose ends merge with a narrow bead, 0.03m wide, around the perimeter of the head. The cross motif has a central raised boss 0.08m in diameter at the intersection of the limbs. The upper edge of the upper limb has been truncated by a slight fracture across the top edge of the head. The rectangular-section shaft is undecorated and stands 0.85m high, tapering in width from 0.33m at the base to 0.3m at the neck, and tapering in thickness from 0.21m at the base to 0.18m at the neck. The shaft is set in a large sub-rectangular granite boulder measuring 0.97m north-south by 0.53m east-west and 0.29m high. The Fenton Pits Cross is situated near a junction on a minor road which, during the medieval period, formed part of an important route across central Cornwall linking the Camel and Fowey estuaries. This route, the usage of which is considered to extend back into the prehistoric period, is marked by other surviving medieval wayside crosses, reflecting its prominence as a medieval pilgrimage route for travellers from Ireland and Wales to the south Cornish ports en route to holy sites on the Continent. This route is now commemorated by a long distance footpath, the Saint's Way, which passes by this cross. This is also one of several surviving crosses marking routes within the parish to the church at Lanivet. This cross was originally located 18m from its present position on the same road. When recorded by the historian Langdon in 1896, its base and lower shaft were separated and situated in a nearby hedge. The cross was reunited and erected in its present position in 1926 by workmen from the neighbouring Lanhydrock Estate. The metalled surface of the modern road passing west 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: 24299

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Cornwall County Council, , The Saint's Way, (1992)
Keast, J, The Story of Fowey, (1987)
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
consulted 1993, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 21363,
Given by letter, 8/93, Information given to MPPFW by Mr Andrew Langdon, (1993)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 06/16; Pathfinder Series 1347 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing