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An inscribed cross shaft, a lantern cross head and a cross-base in Gulval churchyard

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: An inscribed cross shaft, a lantern cross head and a cross-base in Gulval churchyard

List entry Number: 1018493


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.


District: Cornwall

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Penzance

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 21-Oct-1971

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Sep-1998

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 31825

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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.

The medieval cross shaft, lantern head and large base survive reasonably well. The cross shaft bears an inscription which, although illegible, is an indication of the importance of Christianity at Gulval from the early medieval period through to the present day. The highly decorated cross base is unique in Cornwall. The reuse of the cross shaft in the church building and its later removal and erection in the churchyard next to the cross base and lantern cross head, in the 19th century demonstrate 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 an early medieval inscribed cross shaft with a late medieval lantern cross head, mounted on a medieval cross-base situated to the south of Gulval parish church. The overall height of the monument is 1.32m. The inscribed cross shaft survives as an upright granite shaft but mounted upside down - the tenon for mounting in a cross base is at the top. The shaft measures 0.45m wide by 0.32m thick. A wide bead runs down each edge of the shaft, and all four faces are decorated. The north and south sides bear an incised `Z' shaped key pattern, while the east face bears an interlaced design in low relief. The west face is divided into three panels: the upper panel is decorated with an interlace design, but the two lower panels each contain a line of incised inscription. This inscription has been read as `VN VI', or `VRI VI', it is very worn and is now illegible. This cross shaft is considered to date from the ninth to 11th centuries. This cross shaft was found in 1885 in use as a quoin stone at the east end of the church. It was later set up in its present location. The cross head survives as the upper part of a granite lantern head, and is mounted on a large cross base. The head measures 0.48m high by 0.33m wide and is 0.21m thick. The principal faces are orientated east-west. The west face bears a simple crucifixion scene with a worn figure of Christ with outstretched arms. The other three faces each bear a figure, all very worn. Each figure is set beneath an arched canopy. In the top of the head is a shallow, square hole possibly to support a smaller cross or a finial. The granite cross base measures 0.69m wide by 0.69m thick and is 0.83m high. Each face is decorated: the south face bears a relief figure with a halo, kneeling and holding a book; the relief carving on the east face is moss covered and indistinct; on the north face there is another relief figure with a halo; and the west face bears an indistinct incised motif. Around the top of the base is a groove forming a bead around the socket. This cross base is unique in Cornwall, and is considered to have come from a different cross to the lantern cross now mounted in its socket. The metalled surface of the footpath to the south of the crosses, the section of window tracery and the electricity cable to the north where they fall within the 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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of West Penwith, (1997)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of West Penwith, (1997)
Okasha, E, Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain, (1993)
Consulted November 1997, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 31693.01,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 33/43/part 53; Pathfinder 1364 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

National Grid Reference: SW 48461 31744


© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Aug-2018 at 01:30:31.

End of official listing