Medieval churchyard cross 20m south of the Church of St Bruerdus, Churchtown
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1014008
Date first listed: 16-Feb-1996
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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. Breward
National Grid Reference: SX 09744 77320
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone,
mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD).
Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as
stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm
Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for
preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of
sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between
parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate
battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and
protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market
places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some
crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for
example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the
scenes of games or recreational activity.
Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have
numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation
has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and
religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by
iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval
standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The
oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft
often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the
stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a
flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th
centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may
take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more
elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped
crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding
stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the
most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the
stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also
uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the
13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and
cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base,
buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and
head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our
understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our
knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which
survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their
original location, are considered worthy of protection.
The cross in the churchyard of St Bruerdus has survived reasonably well. It forms a good example of an elaborately decorated four-holed, wheel-headed cross. The unusual trefoil shape of the four holes is a rare feature and is a form of decoration unique to Cornwall. Recent studies of churchyard crosses have dated this cross to the tenth century. The various relocations of the cross around St Breward and its re-erection in the cemetery at the end of the 19th century illustrate the changing attitudes to religion that have prevailed since the medieval period and the impact of these changes on the local landscape.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes a medieval churchyard cross situated in the cemetery to
the south of the church at Churchtown, St Breward, in north Cornwall.
The churchyard cross survives as a round or `wheel' head set on a modern
shaft. The overall height of the monument is 2.19m. The granite head measures
0.77m in diameter and is up to 0.23m thick. The head is fully pierced by four
holes creating an equal limbed cross with widely splayed arms linked by an
outer ring. Each of these holes have three rounded ribs running through them,
one on the side of each limb and one on the ring forming the holes into a
trefoil shape. Both principal faces are decorated. Each limb has a narrow bead
around its outer edges, and the upper and side limbs are decorated with
trequetra knots. The lower limb is plain. On the west principal face at the
intersection of the limbs is a central round boss 0.12m in diameter. The head
has been fractured across the top of the lower limb and across the lower
sections of the outer ring, and the lower part of one side limb on the east
face. A modern lower limb with a bead around its edge has replaced the
original, and the outer ring and side limb have been repaired with cement. The
head is set on a modern granite shaft measuring 1.42m high by 0.47m wide at
the base, widening to 0.51m at the centre and narrowing to 0.36m at the top.
The shaft is 0.19m thick, and has a narrow chamfer on each corner.
The cross-head is believed to be part of the original churchyard cross. Before 1853 it was set on top of the churchyard wall. In 1853 it was placed on a low wall between the girls' and boys' playgrounds at St Breward school, where it was illustrated by the historians Langdon and Blight. During the 1890s the cross head was restored, set on a modern shaft and re-erected in its present location in the cemetery to the south of the church. The historian Hencken in 1932 dated the cross to the 13th century, but more recent studies date this cross to the tenth century. There is a fragment of decorated cross shaft outside the public house in St Breward, 60m south west of the present position of the cross, which may be another fragment of the churchyard cross. The graves with their headstones and kerb surrounds to the east, north east, south, west, and north west, where they fall within the protective margin of the cross 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: 28432
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of North Cornwall, (1992)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 3467,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 07/17; Pathfinder Series 1338 Source Date: 1988 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing