Churchyard cross in St Illogan churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015064

Date first listed: 12-Nov-1996


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross in St Illogan 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: Illogan

National Grid Reference: SW 67123 44030


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.

The churchyard cross in St Illogan churchyard has survived well. It is a good example of a wheel headed cross. There is no record of its ever having been moved. 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 north of the church at Illogan on the north coast of west Cornwall.

The churchyard cross, which is Listed Grade II, survives as an upright granite shaft with a round, `wheel' head. The overall height of the monument is 1.66m. The principal faces are orientated north west-south east. The head measures 0.46m high by 0.51m wide and is 0.29m thick. Both principal faces are decorated. The south east principal face bears a relief equal limbed cross with widely expanded ends to the limbs. The upper limb has four 0.03m diameter lead filled holes, possibly used to attach something to this face of the cross. The north west face bears a relief equal limbed cross, with a circular shallow indentation 0.1m in diameter at the intersection of the limbs. On both faces there is a narrow bead around the outer edge of the head. The shaft measures 1.2m high by 0.41m wide at the base tapering to 0.34m at the top and is 0.29m thick. The shaft is chamfered on all four corners.

This churchyard cross is located to the north of St Illogan Church, and south of the site of the medieval church, the tower of which is still standing. The cross is believed to be in its original position. The historian Langdon in 1896 was informed by the sexton that the cross shaft is deeply buried. When digging a grave close to the cross, he uncovered the shaft to a depth of 1.5m.

The headstones and kerb surrounds to the south west and west of the cross fall within its 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: 29224

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 18010.3,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 33/43/part 53; Pathfinder 1364 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing