Wayside cross-slab and early Christian memorial stone in St Columb Major churchyard, 2m south of the church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014220

Date first listed: 07-Sep-1950

Date of most recent amendment: 05-Jan-1996


Ordnance survey map of Wayside cross-slab and early Christian memorial stone in St Columb Major churchyard, 2m south 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: St. Columb Major

National Grid Reference: SW 91286 63665


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 cross-slab in St Columb Major churchyard has survived well, and is an unusual example of a wayside cross with a crudely executed design and an inscription. It combined two functions, as an early Christian memorial stone and as a wayside cross. Its reuse as a gatepost and its removal to the churchyard and re-erection there 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-slab and early Christian memorial stone situated immediately to the south of the church in St Columb Major churchyard in northern central Cornwall. The wayside cross-slab and early Christian memorial stone survives as an upright, rectangular slab of coarse grained granite standing to an overall height of 1.32m. The cross-slab measures 0.64m wide by 0.22m thick. The principal faces are orientated east-west. Both principal faces are decorated with an equal limbed cross formed by four triangular sinkings in the areas between the limbs: the cross on the east face has widely expanded ends to the limbs; that on the west face has splayed ends to the upper and lower limbs. There is a badly eroded inscription on the west face, which has never been fully deciphered. The inscription has been read as `Iaconius'. This cross-slab was originally set up as an early Christian memorial stone, and the historian Henderson dated it to the fifth - eighth centuries. The cross-slab has been pierced right through the two principal faces by two holes, each 0.04m in diameter, one near the top and one near the base of the slab. There is another hole 0.04m in diameter and 0.04m deep in the top of the slab. These holes are the result of the former reuse of the cross as a gatepost. This wayside cross-slab and early Christian memorial stone is located immediately to the south of St Columb Major church. Its original site is not recorded but in 1858 it was located outside St Columb Major churchyard, and prior to that it had been used as a gatepost. It was later moved into the churchyard and re-erected in its present position. The slate covered gutter to the east, north and west of the cross-slab and the metalled surface of the footpath passing to the south, where they lie within the protective margin of the cross are 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: 28460

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 21586,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 86/96; Pathfinder Series 1346 Source Date: 1985 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing