Wayside cross base in Colan churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016364

Date first listed: 25-Oct-1974

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Wayside cross base in Colan 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: Colan

National Grid Reference: SW 86816 61293


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.

Although only the base survives, its distincitve form places it amongst the scarce late medieval wayside crosses, near the end of the tradition which produced this class of monument. Its removal to the vicarage garden, probably sometime during the 19th century, and its move into the churchyard at Colan in the 20th century 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 base situated to the south of the church in Colan churchyard, close to the north coast of mid Cornwall. The wayside cross base measures 0.57m in overall height and survives as a granite block moulded to give an octagonal section top springing from a square section base. The octagonal section top measures 0.7m north-south by 0.7m east-west. The upper surface of the top contains a centrally placed square mortice, 0.35m north-south by 0.5m east-west. The square section basal part has sides 0.6m wide, and the corners of this basal part are chamfered. The wayside cross base was first recorded by the local historian, Charles Henderson in the 1920s in the grounds of the vicarage at Colan. In 1971 the vicarage was sold and the cross base was moved into the churchyard. The style of the cross base denotes a later medieval date, probably 15th century, towards the end of the medieval cross series. It is Listed Grade II. The gravel surface of the footpath surrounding the cross base, the wooden bench to the north and the granite war memorial to the east, where they fall within the cross base'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.


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

Legacy System number: 30420

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 22153,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW86/96; Pathfinder Series 1346 Source Date: 1985 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing