Wayside cross in Gwennap churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016289

Date first listed: 22-Mar-1932

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Wayside cross in Gwennap churchyard
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Gwennap

National Grid Reference: SW 73871 40118


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 reasonably well, despite the reuse of the lower shaft as part of a stile. It is a good example of a wheel headed cross with a rare figure of Christ motif on one face, and a `Latin' cross on the shaft. Its removal from its original location, its reuse as part of a stile, and its repair and re-erection in the churchyard illustrate 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 north of the church at Gwennap in west Cornwall. The wayside cross, which is Listed Grade II*, is visible as an upright granite shaft with a round or `wheel' head, measuring 1.76m in overall height. The head measures 0.52m in diameter and is 0.16m thick. The principal faces, both of which are decorated, are orientated north-south. The north principal face bears a relief figure of Christ, 0.37m tall, with outstretched arms. The south principal face bears a relief `Latin' cross, the broad lower limb continues down the length of the shaft. The outer edge of both principal faces is decorated with a narrow bead. On the north face the bead continues around the base of the head and the feet of the Christ figure merge into it. On the south face the bead continues down either side of the shaft. The shaft measures 1.24m high by 0.26m wide at the base widening slightly to 0.29m at the top, and is 0.16m thick. The north principal face of the shaft is decorated with a relief `Latin' cross. The lower portion of the shaft had been reused as the lowest step of a stile on a church path. The base of the shaft is set in concrete. The flat tombstone, and the slate headstones to the south of the cross 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: 30403

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Consulted 1996, AM7 for CO 169,
Information from Andrew Langdon, (1996)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 74/84; Pathfinder Series 1360 Source Date: 1977 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing