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
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 Holy Trinity churchyard has survived reasonably well and
is a good example of a wheel headed cross. Its original function was as a
waymarker to a medieval chapel. Its removal to Holy Trinity churchyard and its
subsequent re-erection there demonstrates well the changing attitudes to
religion that have prevailed since the Reformation and the impact of these
changes on the local landscape.
The monument includes a medieval wayside cross-head situated to the west
of Holy Trinity Church at Tresillian in south Cornwall.
The wayside cross, which is Listed Grade II, survives as an upright granite
shaft with a round, `wheel' head set on a low wall. The overall height of the
monument is 0.61m. The principal faces are orientated east-west. The head
measures 0.58m wide by 0.13m thick. Both principal faces bear an equal limbed
cross with slightly splayed ends to the limbs, formed by four triangular
sinkings. The shaft measures 0.1m high by 0.4m wide and is 0.17m thick.
This wayside cross was found at Chapel Field, Tregellas, 5.5km north east of
Holy Trinity churchyard. In 1863 the cross plus half a base stone was removed
to the mission church at Tresillian and placed on the churchyard wall. In 1904
a new church was built, the fragment of base stone disappeared and the cross
was re-erected in its present location to the west of the church, close to the
churchyard wall. It is believed that the cross probably marked a route to the
medieval chapel at Tregellas.
The wooden planter and its concrete blocks to the east of the cross, the
wooden planter to the south east, and the modern gravel surface surrounding
the cross, where these fall within its protective margin, are excluded from
the scheduling but the ground beneath is included.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.