Wayside cross at Polmenna, 730m north east of Ley Green Farm
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
- St. Neot
- National Grid Reference:
- SX 18222 66566
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.
This wayside cross has survived well. Despite some modifications from its former use as a gatepost it is a good example of the rather uncommon `Latin' cross type. Although it has been moved from its original location, it remains close to its original route and demonstrates well the various roles of wayside crosses in marking major cross country routes and the ways within the parish to the church.
The monument includes a medieval wayside cross situated by the roadside at a
junction of two minor roads at Polmenna, a hamlet on the southern edge of
The wayside cross survives as an upright granite head and shaft mounted on a
modern granite base. The head has unenclosed arms, a form called a `Latin'
cross, its principal faces orientated east-west. The overall height of the
cross is 1.35m. The head measures 0.5m wide across the two side arms, each
of which are 0.23m high by 0.23m thick. The upper limb has been fractured at
some time in the past. All four corners of the two side limbs are chamfered.
The shaft measures 0.31m wide at the base tapering slightly to 0.25m at the
top, and is 0.25m thick. All four corners of the shaft are chamfered, giving
an octagonal section shaft, but sloping out above the cross-base to form a
square moulded foot to the shaft. The shaft has been fractured at some time in
the past and has been repaired with a cement join.
The shaft is mounted in a modern, rectangular granite base stone which is set
flush with the ground and measures 1m north-south by 0.4m east-west.
This wayside cross was found in 1932 inverted with its head in the ground and
in use as a gatepost. It was hit by a threshing machine, which fractured the
shaft, and needed to be replaced. It was repaired, mounted on a modern base
and re-erected in its present location in 1932. It has been suggested that its
original location may have been in a field called cross park to the north of
its present position, where it may have marked a route from Polmenna to the
parish church at St Neot to the north east. This is also on a route coming up
from the River Fowey valley to the south, and across Bodmin Moor to the north.
From the style of the shaft, and the chamfering on the head, this cross
appears to be a late example of a medieval wayside cross. The cross is Listed
The metalled surface of the road passing to the south of the cross and the
telegraph pole to the south, where they fall within the cross's protective
margin, are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath is
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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses in East Cornwall, (1996)
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 17148,
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN.No. 17148.01,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 06/16; Pathfinder Series 1347 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing