Wayside cross in St Stithians churchyard
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1016288
Date first listed: 08-Dec-1997
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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 73131 37139
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 has survived well as a good example of a wheel headed cross with a rare figure of Christ motif on one face. Its discovery and relocation, first at Sewrah Mill, and then in St Stithians churchyard, illustrates well the changing attitudes to religion and their impact on the local landscape since the medieval period.
The monument includes a medieval wayside cross situated to the east of the
church at Stithians in west Cornwall.
The wayside cross is visible as an upright granite shaft with a round or
`wheel' head, mounted on a modern granite base. The monument measures 2.06m in
overall height. The head measures 0.50m high by 0.58m wide and is 0.28m thick.
The principal faces, both of which are decorated, are orientated north-south.
The south principal face bears a relief figure of Christ with outstretched
arms, the legs extending down onto the top of the shaft and terminating in
neatly out-turned feet. The north principal face bears a relief `Latin' cross,
the lower limb extending down onto the top of the shaft. The outer edge of
both principal faces is decorated with a narrow bead, 0.06m wide, which
continues onto the upper shaft, terminating just below the feet of the figure
of Christ on the south face, and just below the base of the lower limb of the
cross on the north face. The shaft measures 1.35m high by 0.39m wide at the
base tapering slightly towards the top.
The headstone to the south east of the cross and the granite slab to the north
west are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 30402
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 18296.01,
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 18296.02,
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 18296.03,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 33/43/part 53; Pathfinder 1364 Source Date: 1989 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