Churchyard cross in Feock churchyard
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1015071
Date first listed: 15-Jun-1972
Date of most recent amendment: 04-Sep-1996
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: SW 82484 38420
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 Feock churchyard has survived well, and is believed to be in its original location. It is a good example of a wheel headed cross and is unusual in showing signs of transition from an early medieval style to the later Gothic style. It is a rare example of a churchyard cross from the later medieval period, and is carved from elvan, rather than the more usual granite.
The monument includes a medieval churchyard cross situated to the south of
Feock church on the River Fal estuary in the south of Cornwall.
The churchyard cross, which is Listed Grade II, is visible as an upright shaft
of grey elvan with a round or `wheel' head, measuring 1.2m in overall height.
Elvan is the local name given to intrusive igneous rock. The head measures
0.4m in diameter and is 0.24m thick. The principal faces are orientated north
west-south east. Both principal faces are decorated. There is a 0.05m wide
bead around the outer edge of the head on both faces. The north west face
bears a crowned figure of Christ in relief with arms outstretched and the legs
terminating at the knee. The legs of the figure extend onto the top of the
shaft. The crown is very eroded. The south east face is decorated with a
foliated Gothic cross in relief, consisting of raised curved shapes forming
the shape of an equal limbed cross. The shaft measures 0.8m high by 0.28m wide
and is 0.24m thick. There is a bead on all four corners of the shaft. The
shaft is mounted in a modern base which is not visible as it is covered by
This churchyard cross is a transitional style monument, bearing a figure of
Christ with outstretched arms, more typical of the early medieval crosses, and
yet also decorated with a foliated cross of early Gothic design. The cross has
been dated to the 13th century and is a late example of a churchyard cross.
The surface of the gravel footpath passing to the north east, north west and
south west of the cross is excluded from the scheduling, where it falls within
its protective margin, 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: 29201
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall Entry for PRN No. 24377.4,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 83 & parts SW 73 & SW 93; Pathfinder Series 1366 Source Date: 1984 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