Wayside cross in Colan churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017926

Date first listed: 25-Oct-1974

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Wayside cross 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 86827 61292


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 well as a good example of a wheel-headed cross. Its square shaped head is unusual as are the round sinkings to indicate the cross on the head. Its reuse as a fencepost in the 19th century and removal from the roadside into the nearby churchyard 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 situated to the south of the church in Colan churchyard, close to the north coast of mid Cornwall. The wayside cross survives as an upright granite shaft measuring 1.08m high. The principle faces are orientated north-south. The base of the shaft measures 0.36m wide widening slightly to 0.4m at the head, and the shaft is 0.17m thick. Both principal faces bear four round sinkings or shallow holes at the four corners of the head. The base of the head or neck is indicated by an indentation to either side of the shaft. The south principal face of the cross is pierced by two holes, 0.04m in diameter, one in the centre of the head, and one near the base of the shaft, each containing a lump of iron. The north principal face is pierced by a hole in the centre of the head, and five further holes running down the shaft, all containing lumps of iron. These holes are the results of a reuse of the cross as a base for iron railings. To the east of the cross is a granite stone bearing a plaque reading `Colan Cross Rescued from a nearby hedge and erected on this site by Newquay OCS Dedicated on Trinity Sunday 1970'. The cross is Listed Grade II. The gravel surface of the footpath surrounding the cross, the flower pots and the iron bootscrapper to the south west, the drains to the north west and north east and the modern plaque and its granite mount to the east fall within the cross's protective margin and are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them 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: 30419

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 22152,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 86/96; Pathfinder Series 1346 Source Date: 1985 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing