Wayside cross in Madron churchyard, west of the church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016157

Date first listed: 15-Apr-1970

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Sep-1997


Ordnance survey map of Wayside cross in Madron churchyard, west 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: Madron

National Grid Reference: SW 45326 31802


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 has survived well as a good example of a `wheel' headed cross with a rare figure of Christ motif on one face. Its reuse as a gatepost and relocation in the churchyard at Madron illustrates well the changing attitudes to religion and their impact on the local landscape since the medieval period.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross situated to the west of the church at Madron on the Penwith peninsula in west Cornwall. The wayside cross, which is listed Grade II, is visible as an upright granite shaft with a round or `wheel' head, mounted on a circular granite base. The monument measures 0.97m in overall height. The head measures 0.62m wide by 0.24m thick. The principal faces are orientated east-west and are decorated. The east principal face bears a large figure of Christ, 0.84m high, with outstretched arms, the legs and lower part of the body extending down the shaft. The ends of the arms are expanded, showing the sleeves of the tunic, and the feet are missing. There are four shallow holes or drillings on the figure of Christ motif. The west principal face bears a relief equal limbed cross with slightly expanded ends to the limbs; two incised lines continue the lower limb down the length of the shaft. There is a narrow bead around the outer edge of the head on this face. There is a 0.04m diameter hole, 0.07m deep in the shaft, just below the head, probably the result of an earlier reuse of the cross as a gatepost. There is a similar hole in the south side of the top of the head. The shaft is mounted in a circular base, 0.95m in diameter, which is set flush with the ground. This base consists of two pieces of granite with many shallow holes being sunk into it, the result of its previous use as a practise stone for young men to practice drilling holes in granite prior to starting work in the quarries. The four holes on the figure of Christ are also a result of this reuse of the cross. This wayside cross was recorded by the antiquarian Blight in the mid-1850s as being built into a hedge near the east entrance to the churchyard at Madron. By 1896, when the historian Langdon illustrated the cross, it had been mounted in a base and relocated at the west end of the churchyard in its present position. The electricity cable to the west of the cross, the headstones to the north, north east, and east, and the granite and brick structure to the south, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath, these features 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: 30407

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.31702,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW33/43; Pathfinder Series 1364 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing