Wayside cross in St Nectan's chapel yard


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Wayside cross in St Nectan's chapel yard
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
St. Winnow
National Grid Reference:
SX 12846 59977

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 wayside cross in St Nectran's chapel yard has survived substantially intact despite the fracture across the shaft. It is a good example of a wheel- headed cross. Its removal to the chapel yard and re-erection there in the early 20th century illustrate well the changing attitudes to religion which have prevailed since the medieval period and their impact on the local landscape.


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross situated to the south east of the church in St Nectan's chapel yard, also known as St Nighton's churchyard, in south east Cornwall. The wayside cross survives as an upright granite shaft with a round, `wheel' head set on a modern rectangular base. The overall height of the monument is 1.34m. The principal faces are orientated north-south. The granite head measures 0.54m in diameter by 0.19m thick. Both principal faces bear a relief equal limbed cross: that on the south face has more widely splayed ends to the limbs than that on the north face. The cross on the north face is also inclined to the left. A narrow bead 0.06m wide runs around the edge of each face. The rectangular-section shaft measures 0.58m high by 0.26m wide and 0.18m thick. Each of the four corners of the shaft has a narrow bead. There is a fracture across the shaft 0.08m above the base. The modern granite base measures 0.99m east-west by 0.77m north-south and is 0.2m high. This wayside cross is of red granite. It was found in 1903, at Higher Coombe 0.5km south east of St Nectan's chapel yard. It has been suggested that its original site is Ethy Cross approximately 2km to the south of St Nectan's chapel yard. 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:
Legacy System:


Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 26970,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 05/15; St Austell and Fowey Source Date: 1980 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

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