Wayside cross in Gwinear churchyard, 5m north of the church

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016160

Date first listed: 24-Sep-1997

Map

Ordnance survey map of Wayside cross in Gwinear churchyard, 5m north of the church
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Gwinear-Gwithian

National Grid Reference: SW 59501 37385

Summary

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 removal from a road junction in the 19th century and relocation in the churchyard at Gwinear illustrates well the changing attitudes to religion and their impact on the local landscape since the medieval period.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a medieval wayside cross situated to the north of the church in Gwinear churchyard in west Cornwall. 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 1.42m. The principal faces are orientated east-west. The head measures 0.47m wide and is 0.24m thick. The west face bears a very worn and barely discernible figure of Christ with arms outstretched. The east face bears an equal limbed cross, with splayed ends to the limbs. Both faces have a narrow bead running around the outer edge of the head. The shaft measures 1.04m high and is 0.25m thick. On the west principal face are two holes resulting from an earlier reuse of the cross as a gatepost. Prior to 1858 this wayside cross was located 0.25km to the east of Gwinear church, at a junction of the road from Gwinear to Carnhell Green to the east, where it is crossed by a route to Lanyon to the north east, and routes towards Leedstown and Praze-an-Beeble to the south east. This cross was removed from the junction in 1858 and placed in the churchyard at Gwinear, by the north east angle of the church. Between 1870 and 1880 it was moved close to the south porch, where the historian Langdon recorded it in 1896. Since then it has been moved to the north side of the churchyard to its present location, near the north porch. The gravel surface of the footpaths to the south and west of the cross, where they fall within the cross's protective margin, are excluded from the scheduling, although 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.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 30413

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
St Gwinear, (1989)
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Other
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 29564,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 33/43/part 53; Pathfinder 1364 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing