Wayside cross in Lesnewth churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014213

Date first listed: 01-Feb-1996


Ordnance survey map of Wayside cross in Lesnewth churchyard
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Lesnewth

National Grid Reference: SX 13066 90294


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.

The wayside cross in Lesnewth churchyard has survived reasonably well, and is a good example of a wheel-headed cross despite being mounted on a modern shaft and base. Although there is no record of its original position, in its present location it fulfills the function of a wayside cross, marking a footpath within the parish to the church. Its former reuse as a feeding bowl, and its re-erection in the churchyard in the 19th century demonstrate well the changing attitudes to religion and their impact on 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 to the south of the church at Lesnewth on the north coast of Cornwall.

The wayside cross survives as a round or `wheel' head set on a modern granite shaft and base. The overall height of the monument is 2.4m. The principal faces are orientated east-west. The head measures 0.73m high by 0.64m wide and is 0.17m thick. The east principal face bears a relief equal limbed cross with slightly splayed ends to the limbs, and a circular flat boss at the intersection of the limbs. A narrow bead, 0.06m wide, passes around the outer edge of the head. The west face is plain, except for a narrow bead around the outer edge of the head. This face was hollowed out, removing the cross motif, to facilitate its former reuse as a feeding trough for pigs. At the neck are two rounded projections 0.08m high by 0.07m wide, to either side of the shaft. The cross head is joined to the modern shaft by cement. The shaft measures 1.53m high by 0.46m wide at the base tapering to 0.38m at the top, and is 0.28m thick at the base tapering to 0.2m at the top. All four corners of the shaft have a 0.05m wide bead. The rectangular modern base measures 0.98m east-west by 1.4m north-south and is 0.14m high.

The wayside cross is located to the south of the church, by a wooden footbridge over a stream, marking the footpath to the church from Tregrylls Farm. The cross head was found in the 1860s by a local farmer who hollowed out one face in order to use it as a feeding bowl for his pigs. It was too shallow for this purpose and was soon discarded. In 1872 the head was recovered and was later re-erected on a modern shaft and base.

The metalled surface of the footpath passing to the east of the cross and the wooden footbridge to the south east, where they lie within the protective margin of the cross, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included. This 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: 28452

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of North Cornwall, (1992)
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 08/18: Pathfinder Series 1325 Source Date: 1986 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing