Churchyard cross in Lanivet churchyard, 5m west of the church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014229

Date first listed: 11-Nov-1954

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Jan-1996


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross in Lanivet churchyard, 5m 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: Lanivet

National Grid Reference: SX 03920 64210


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.

This churchyard cross at Lanivet has survived well. It forms a good and complete example of an elaborately decorated four-holed, wheel-headed cross. It has several rare features including the straight ends to the limbs, and the carefully executed scrollwork and interlace designs on the shaft, which date it to the tenth century. This cross maintains its original function as a churchyard cross, in its original location.


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


The monument includes a medieval churchyard cross situated to the west of Lanivet church in southern central Cornwall.

The churchyard cross is visible as an upright granite shaft with a round or `wheel' head, measuring 3m in overall height. The head measures 0.62m high and is fully pierced by four holes creating an equal limbed cross with widely splayed arms linked by an outer ring. The principal faces are orientated east-west. Both principal faces are decorated. The limbs are decorated with triquetra knots, these have been eroded away on the upper and right hand limbs on the west face. The edges of the limbs are outlined with a single bead. At the intersection of the limbs is a central round boss with a bead around its base. The upper limbs extend slightly beyond the ring, and are straight edged; usually the edges curve in line with the head. The head is joined to the shaft by cement. The shaft measures 2.38m high by 0.45m wide at the base, tapering to 0.42m at the neck and is 0.37m thick at the base. The shaft has a 0.11m wide bead on all four corners. All four sides of the shaft are decorated. The east face bears a continuous panel of scroll work, and the west face bears a continuous panel of interlace decoration. The sides are also decorated with continuous panels of interlace designs. The shaft is set into a base which is completely covered by a layer of turf.

This churchyard cross is believed to be in its original location. The head was at some period in the past fractured from the shaft, but has been repaired with a cement join. This is one of two churchyard crosses in Lanivet churchyard, the only other churchyard with two such elaborate crosses is at Sancreed in west Cornwall. It has been suggested that this cross is of 13th century date by the carefully executed scroll work decoration on the east face of the shaft, but more recent studies of churchyard crosses suggest that it is tenth century.

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: 28444

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Pearce, S M, The Kingdom of Dumnonia, (1978)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 06/16; Pathfinder Series 1347 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing