Churchyard cross shaft and base in St Stephen's churchyard, 3m south of the church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018695

Date first listed: 04-Feb-1999


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross shaft and base in St Stephen's churchyard, 3m south of the church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: St. Stephen-in-Brannel

National Grid Reference: SW 94496 53311


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

Reasons for Designation

A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone, mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD). Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the scenes of games or recreational activity. Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the 13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base, buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their original location, are considered worthy of protection.

The medieval churchyard cross in St Stephen's churchyard survives reasonably well, despite the loss of its head. It maintains its original function as a churchyard cross in its original churchyard. It is a good example of a late medieval `gothic' style of cross shaft and base.


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


The monument includes a medieval churchyard cross shaft and base situated in the churchyard at St Stephen in Brannel. The churchyard cross, which is Listed Grade II, survives as the upright shaft and base of Pentewan stone set on a platform, also of Pentewan stone. Pentewan stone is an intrusive white elvan from the south coast of Cornwall which was used in the county for intricate carvings during the medieval period. The shaft stands to a height of 0.79m, is of octagonal section and measures 0.28m wide and thick at the base, tapering to 0.24m at the top. Four sides of the shaft slope out above the base to form the moulded foot. This shaft is mounted in a cross base which measures 0.62m north-south by 0.68m east-west and is 0.3m high. The base is moulded to form an octagonal section top springing from a square section base. This base is mounted on a platform of blocks of Pentewan stone, which measures 1.25m north-south by 1.2m east-west and is 0.24m high. The style of the cross shaft and base suggest a late medieval date, and it has been suggested that this cross originally had a lantern type cross head. The metalled footpath to the north of the cross, the two gravestones to the east and the wooden stake to the west, where they fall within the cross's 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. It includes a 2 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: 31839

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 85/95; Pathfinder 1353 Source Date: 1983 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing