Medieval churchyard cross in St Cleer churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014020

Date first listed: 16-Feb-1996


Ordnance survey map of Medieval churchyard cross in St Cleer churchyard
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1014020 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 13-Dec-2018 at 12:49:53.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: St. Cleer

National Grid Reference: SX 24759 68152


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 St Cleer churchyard cross has survived reasonably well despite the loss of its shaft. It is an example of a four-holed wheel headed cross although the lower part of the head is missing. The two remaining holes are unusually deep set and the elaborate style of the cross head probably dates from the tenth century. The discovery of the cross-head during restoration of the church earlier this century and its re-erection in the churchyard, illustrates the changing attitudes to religion that have prevailed since the Reformation 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 to the west of the church in St Cleer churchyard in south east Cornwall. The St Cleer churchyard cross survives as a round, `wheel' head set on a modern shaft. The overall height of the monument is 1.09m. The principal faces are orientated north west-south east. The granite head measures 0.37m high by 0.44m wide and is 0.19m thick. Both principal faces bear a low relief equal- limbed cross with widely expanded ends to the limbs. The head is pierced by two holes in the angles of the upper and side limbs, forming a distinct ring linking the limbs. The head has been fractured below the side limbs. The upper limbs have a narrow bead around their edges, and there is a central round boss at the intersection of the limbs. The two pear shaped holes are deep set, their outer edges sloping down into the holes from either side of the head. The head is joined by a band of cement up to 0.08m thick to the modern shaft. The rectangular-section granite shaft measures 0.68m high, 0.36m wide and is 0.19m thick. There is a 0.04m diameter hole 0.39m above ground level on the south east face, probably a result of former reuse as a gatepost. This churchyard cross is located in the churchyard at St Cleer, 0.9m west of the south porch. The cross head fragment is believed to be part of the original churchyard cross; it was found in 1904 when the church was undergoing restoration. It was left among building debris until 1934 when it was re-erected on a modern shaft. The granite and slate memorial slabs to the north west of the cross and the metalled surface of the footpath to the south west of the cross are excluded from the scheduling, where they fall within the protective margin of the cross, 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: 26255

Legacy System: RSM


Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 17278,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 26/36; Pathfinder Series 1348 Source Date: 1983 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing