Wayside cross in St Agnes' churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015058

Date first listed: 06-Jul-1959

Date of most recent amendment: 04-Sep-1996


Ordnance survey map of Wayside cross in St Agnes' 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: St. Agnes

National Grid Reference: SW 72030 50724


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 wayside cross in St Agnes' churchyard has survived well and is a good example of a wheel headed cross. It probably acted as a waymarker on a church path. Its reuse as a lych stone and its subsequent re-erection on a modern base in the churchyard demonstrates well 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 wayside cross situated to the south west of the church at St Agnes on the north coast of west Cornwall.

The wayside cross, Listed Grade II, survives as an upright granite shaft with a round, `wheel' head mounted on a modern granite base. The overall height of the monument is 1.58m. The principal faces are orientated south west-north east. The head measures 0.43m high by 0.48m wide and is 0.31m thick. Both principal faces bear an equal limbed cross in low relief with expanded ends to the limbs. The cross motif on the south west face appears to have been re-cut as its edges are clean and sharp; the cross on the north east face is less distinct. The south east side of the head has been straightened in line with the shaft, and the top of the head has been levelled. The shaft measures 1.07m high by 0.38m wide at the base widening slightly to 0.4m at the top and is 0.27m thick. The shaft has a 0.09m chamfer on the west, north and east corners; the chamfer on the south has been flattened. The shaft is mounted in a modern base, constructed of two rectangluar granite blocks on either side of the shaft, infilled with cement with granite chippings on top. This base measures 0.93m north west-south east by 1.2m north east-south west and is 0.08m high.

This wayside cross is located to the south west of the church at St Agnes. In the 1860s it stood at an entrance to the churchyard. It was recorded by the local antiquarian Blight as having been reused as a lych stone to rest a coffin on before a funeral cortege entered the church. The re-shaping of the cross head and shaft was probably carried out in order to fit the cross for this purpose. It is believed that the cross originally acted as a waymarker on a route to the church.

The metalled surface of the footpath passing to the south west of the cross, the cobbled gutters to the south east and south west and the drain with its iron grill to the south, fall within the cross's protective margin and 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 29215

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.19408,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 75; Pathfinder Series 1352 Source Date: 1977 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing