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.
The wayside cross known as Pynes Cross has survived reasonably well apart from
damage to its cross head arms which may have resulted from the religious
upheavals of the Reformation. The cross was re-erected only a few metres from
its original position close to a path which is considered to have been in use
since the medieval period. It thus has a long continuity at this location and
a recognised role as a wayside marker on the path which still acts as a public
The monument includes a medieval wayside cross, known as Pynes Cross, situated
just north of the River Exe alongside an ancient footpath. The wayside cross,
which is Listed Grade II, survives with a medieval socket stone, a shaft, and
a cross head which has both arms missing. The socket stone is of quatrefoil
shape with a chamfered top edge and is 0.9m square at the base. The granite
stone shaft, which has an iron pin fixing its base into the socket stone, is
rectangular in section being 0.35m by 0.4m at the base and it has well defined
chamfered corners. It stands to its full height of 1.7m but both arms of the
cross head have been sheared off in antiquity.
There is a record of the cross having toppled and, as a result, having been
moved and re-erected on a fixed concrete base 4.5m SSW of its original
position. However, as it did in the past, the cross stands just to the north
east of what is considered to be an old path linking the villages of Cowley
and Bramford Speake. Medieval documents show that in 1269 Bishop Bronescombe
appropriated a tithe sheaf of Cowley to Bramford Speake, though separated by
the parish of Upton Pyne, and the cross probably marked a meeting of local
routes in the later medieval period.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.