Medieval wayside cross in Blisland churchyard, 10m west of the church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014007

Date first listed: 16-Feb-1996


Ordnance survey map of Medieval wayside cross in Blisland churchyard, 10m west of the church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Blisland

National Grid Reference: SX 10019 73110


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 has survived reasonably well, and is a good example of a wheel-headed cross despite the reshaping of the sides. The projection on the top of the head is unusual. Its discovery in the churchyard wall in the 19th century and subsequent re-erection in the churchyard demonstrate well the changing attitudes to religion and changes in the local landscape since the medieval period.


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


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross situated within the churchyard at Blisland in north Cornwall. The wayside cross survives as a round, granite `wheel' head set on a large granite boulder. The overall height of the monument is 1.2m, and the principal faces are orientated east-west. The granite head measures 0.71m high by 0.34m wide and is 0.12m thick. Both principal faces of the head bear a relief equal-limbed cross with slightly splayed ends to the limbs. At the centre of each cross motif is a 0.02m diameter indentation. The two side limbs are truncated by a fracture to each side of the cross head; the sides of the head have been straightened, possibly to facilitate its reuse as a gatepost. On the east face there is a 0.07m wide bead around the top and base of the head, and this bead widens out to form a 0.1m high projection on the top of the head, its upper edge curved parallel with the perimeter of the head. The cross-head is set firmly in a granite boulder which measures 1.61m north-south by 0.68m east-west and is 0.5m high. The east side of the boulder has a series of narrow, rounded grooves along its edge, the result of one method of splitting granite. This wayside cross-head was found built into the churchyard wall by an entrance to the churchyard in 1895-6. The two gravestones to the east of the cross fall within its protective margin and are 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: 26260

Legacy System: RSM


Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3596,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 07/17; Pathfinder Series 1338 Source Date: 1988 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing