Wayside cross in St Sennen's churchyard, 6m north of the church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015062

Date first listed: 28-Jul-1971

Date of most recent amendment: 12-Nov-1996


Ordnance survey map of Wayside cross in St Sennen's churchyard, 6m north 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: Sennen

National Grid Reference: SW 35701 25526


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 Sennen's 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 footbridge across a stream, and its subsequent re-erection, firstly by the road through Sennen, later in the new cemetery and finally 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 north of the church at Sennen on the Penwith peninsula in west Cornwall. This is one of two crosses now present in the churchyard.

The wayside cross, which is Listed Grade II, survives as an upright granite shaft with a round, `wheel' head. The overall height of the monument is 2.25m. The principal faces are orientated east-west. The head measures 0.58m high by 0.63m wide and is 0.35m thick. Both principal faces are decorated. The west face bears a relief cross with expanded ends to the limbs, the upper limbs extending to the edge of the head, and the lower limb extending down the shaft, gradually widening to end 0.89m above ground level. The east face is decorated with a relief cross, with expanded ends to the limbs, and the lower limb extending down onto the shaft and terminating in an expanded foot. The shaft measures 1.67m high by 0.46m wide and is 0.34m thick.

This wayside cross is located to the north of Sennen church, by the footpath through the churchyard. The historian Langdon in 1896 recorded that this cross had been in use as a footbridge across a stream below Trevear farmhouse 1.75km north east of St Sennen's Church. In 1878 it was decided to remove the cross, and a search was made for the base stone. An old man in Sennen remembered where the base was and it was found over 1m below the ground. The cross and base were re-united and re-erected by the road through Sennen opposite the west end of the church. Around 1890 the cross was removed to the new cemetery. By 1960 the cross had been removed from the cemetery and re-erected in its present position in the churchyard, minus its cross base.

The metalled surface of the footpath passing to the west of the cross, the headstones to the north east, south east and north west, and the headstone with an associated iron railing surround to the south west, 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. 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: 29220

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 28535.2,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 32/42; Pathfinder Series 1368 Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing