Polmenor Cross in Gwinear churchyard, 12m north of the church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016161

Date first listed: 24-Sep-1997


Ordnance survey map of Polmenor Cross in Gwinear churchyard, 12m north 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: Gwinear-Gwithian

National Grid Reference: SW 59495 37391


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.

The Polmenor Cross has survived in fair condition and is a good example of a `wheel' headed cross of Pentewan stone rather than the more usual granite. Its discovery and re-erection, first by the roadside and later in the churchyard at Gwinear, 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 known as the Polmenor Cross, situated in the churchyard north of the church at Gwinear, in west Cornwall. The cross, which is listed Grade II survives as an upright shaft with a round,`wheel' head of Pentewan stone mounted on a modern granite base. The overall height of the monument is 0.8m. The principal faces are orientated east-west. The head measures 0.45m wide and is 0.12m thick. The east face bears a relief equal limbed cross, the side arms crossing the upper and lower limbs at an angle, and a narrow bead running around the outer edge of the head. The east face is plain. The upper part of the head on the south side has been fractured at some time in the past. The shaft measures 0.34m wide by 0.12m thick. On the east face is a hole, probably the result of an earlier reuse of the cross as a gatepost. The base of the shaft is cemented into a modern granite base. This base measures 0.46m north-south by 0.36m east-west and is 0.15m high. On the west face scratched into the cement is `8th Sept 1984', the date this cross was re-erected in the churchyard. The base is cemented into the ground. The Polmenor Cross was discovered in 1936 lying face down by a stile on Polmenor Farm, 1km north east of Gwinear church. It was re- erected in 1937 by Camborne Old Cornwall Society beside the lane leading to Polmenor, close to where it was found. However this location attracted few visitors, so it was moved to the churchyard at Gwinear in 1984. The headstone to the south of the cross and the headstone and kerbed surround to the north, as well as the memorial slabs to the north west and east, where they fall within the cross's protective margin, 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: 30415

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Rowe, L, Granite Crosses of West Cornwall
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 29556,
Title: 1;25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 63; Pathfinder Series 1365 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing