Early post-medieval guide post 270m north west of Bowden


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016742

Date first listed: 11-Nov-1954

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Apr-1999


Ordnance survey map of Early post-medieval guide post 270m north west of Bowden
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Altarnun

National Grid Reference: SX 25335 82253


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Guide posts are upright markers erected along routeways to indicate, at their most basic, the course of the route, but they often incorporate further useful information such as destinations along the route or from junctions, and sometimes the distances to those destinations. The principles embodied by guide-posts can be traced back to the milestones erected along roads by the Roman army for primarily military and state purposes in the first centuries AD. During the medieval period, responsibility for way-marking largely fell to the church who had a strong interest in maintaining the clarity of routes at a local, regional and national level; their way-marking frequently took the form of erecting crosses along the wayside, conveniently asserting the Christian faith at the same time as marking the route. This system collapsed with the Reformation, both with the Dissolution of the Monasteries who had maintained the routes and with the deliberate destruction of many of the route-marking crosses themselves, though substantial numbers of crosses still survive in some areas. The resulting early post-medieval deterioration of the nation's roads produced successive legislation assigning responsibilities and standards for the highways to the parishes. Provision of posts to guide travellers along routes developed only gradually and haphazardly in the 16th and 17th centuries and surviving examples from this period are rare, their erection not being covered by legislation until an Act of 1697. By then, however, the first Turnpike Acts had been passed, enabling tolls to be levied on road users to pay for the maintenance of specific roads. During the 18th century, this system revolutionised the previously inadequate highways maintenance, both reflecting and generating increased trade and traffic. Turnpiking made the provision of guide posts and milestones essential to define the legal responsibilities of Turnpike Trusts and to encourage increased inter-regional road use; their increased provision was itself a major stimulus to the great increase in the nation's internal trade during the 18th century. A substantial number of the resulting turnpike stone guide posts still survive, as opposed to the early wooden examples, and as with the contemporary milestones, they are often of a distinctive style peculiar to one Turnpike Trust and sometimes to only part of a Trust's length of road. Increased competition for traffic, initially from canals but most successfully from railways, meant the Turnpike Trusts became increasingly unviable during the 19th century; once again the need to finance the road system threatened to constrain the nation's economic development. Between 1888 and 1930, highways maintenance, including signposting, passed to County and District Councils, with national government taking responsibility for trunk roads in 1936. The locations, style and level of standardisation of guide posts provide very tangible indicators of the post-medieval development of the road system; those erected during the 17th and 18th centuries formed an essential element in the growth of the nation's internal trade which provided the setting for the Industrial Revolution. The guide post 270m north west of Bowden survives well as an unusually early, and thereby rare, post-medieval waymarker, embodying both local vernacular style and spelling, and still standing at its original junction. The guide post is of particular significance in marking a major junction in the pre-19th century network of the nation's principal routes. As both the junction and the routes that met there have been subsequently removed far from this guide post, its survival at a minor rural road junction in the present landscape illustrates well the enormous development of the road network since the mid- 19th century and its underlying cause: the massive expansion in the movement of people and goods. Its association with the medieval wayside crosses and the turnpike guide posts along the main spinal route through Cornwall demonstrates clearly the development of way-marking provision and those responsible for it, a sequence that culminates in the modern road signs familiar along the present trunk roads.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes an early post-medieval guide post marking the original site of an important junction which linked the major spinal route through the south west peninsula with the main route behind the north Cornwall coast. Those routes are followed by trunk roads in the present road network but in the 19th-20th century development of the road system, their courses were progressively altered and their junction shifted to the east, leaving their former routes surviving as minor narrow lanes along which the guide post provides unusually clear evidence for their former significance. The guide post is Listed Grade II. The guide post stands 1.34m high overall on a low verge in the western angle of the junction and survives with a thick triangular granite head mortared flat on an upright square-section granite post. The next principal town along each route from the junction is marked in incised lettering, mostly capitals, on the faces of the head. The longest face, oriented to the SSE, is marked `LAUNCESTON rODE' (with the lower case `r'). Of the other two shorter, equal-length, faces, that oriented to the NNE is incised `CAMELFORD' and that to the north west is incised `BODMY RODE'. The western tip of the head is fractured away, a break which clearly occurred during incision of the `L' of Launceston, the upright arm of the letter being cut into the fracture surface; this also accounts for the curious spelling `Bodmy' for the town of Bodmin: the full name, spelt as the vernacular `BODMYN', must have been already incised when the break occurred, removing the final `N'. Three edges of the shaft and the upper and lower edges of the head's SSE face bear short chisel slots at roughly 11cm intervals from shaping the slabs from which the guide post was prepared. The incised destinations confirm that this guide post remains beside its original junction between Launceston and Bodmin on the principal road along the spine of the south west peninsula, at the point where travellers could leave along a ridge-top road passing north of Bodmin Moor towards Camelford on the route linking towns behind the north Cornish coast. This important junction was depicted at the present site of the guide post on Martyn's map of 1748 and on the earliest Ordnance Survey maps of the area in 1813. The spinal route through the peninsula is of considerable antiquity and retains several of its medieval way-marking crosses; the medieval origin of the portion adjoined by this guide post is confirmed by the modified later medieval bridges which still carry this now-minor road over the River Inney and Penpont Water to each side of the ridge where the junction occurs. Parts of the route were used by several early post-medieval travellers who recorded their experiences, including Daniel Defoe in 1724 and, in 1695, Celia Fiennes who also travelled from Camelford to Launceston, noting the `wet and dirty lanes in many places'. The medieval crosses surviving along the spinal route were supplemented in 1742 by a series of posts erected at quarter-mile intervals. In 1769 the route between Launceston and Bodmin, over Bodmin Moor and passing the junction marked by this guide post, was turnpiked; several of the resulting guide posts still survive, similar in concept to that in this scheduling in having stone posts supporting a flat head edge-marked with route destinations but of different and much neater character, deploying thinner slabs cut with destinations in regular well formed capitals; their far neater execution and the increased standardisation of highway furniture that followed from turnpiking implies that the different, very individual, style of this guide post pre-dates that turnpiking of 1769. In the 1820s, the turnpiked spinal route was substantially re-aligned to cross the River Inny 1.75km to the south east at Two Bridges. From that date this guide post lost its function as a major route marker, though it still lay along the road to Camelford. By the 1860s, revised Ordnance Survey maps show that main Camelford road had also been re-defined to a course 2km to the north east and joined the spinal route at Kennard's House, 3.5km ENE of this guide post. These 19th century revisions largely give the basis for these routes' successors in the modern transport network: the A30 trunk road along the spinal route and the A395 providing the link with the A39 trunk road passing through Camelford. Their modern junction, a major interchange on the A30T dual carriageway, contrasts enormously with its pre-1820s predecessor, the junction of rural lanes marked by this guide post. The modern metalled road surface where it falls within the guide post's protective margin is excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


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

Legacy System number: 15542

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Axford, E C , Bodmin Moor, (1975)
Henderson, C, Coates, H, Old Cornish Bridges and Streams, (1928)
Pearse Chope, R (ed), Early Tours in Devon and Cornwall, (1918)
CAU, Cornwall SMR entry PRN 17603, (1998)
Ministry of Works IAM, AM 7 scheduling documentation for CO 379, 1952,
Preston-Jones, A E, AM 107 FMW report for CO 379, (1988)
Title: 1:50000 Ordnance Survey Map; Landranger sheet 201; Plymouth & Launceston Area Source Date: 1992 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1st Edition 1": 1 mile Ordnance Survey Map, sheet 25: Tavistock Source Date: 1860 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Middle electrotype printing of 1860s

End of official listing