Churchyard cross in St Melaine's churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018697

Date first listed: 04-Feb-1999


Ordnance survey map of Churchyard cross in St Melaine's 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: Mullion

National Grid Reference: SW 67901 19187


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 Melaine's churchyard survives reasonably well, despite the loss of its original shaft and base. 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.


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


The monument includes a medieval churchyard cross in Mullion churchyard on the Lizard penninsula. The churchyard cross, which is a Grade II listed building, survives as an upright granite head set on a granite shaft and base, which are considered to be modern. The head has unenclosed arms, a form called a `Latin' cross, its principal faces orientated east-west. The head measures 0.39m high by 0.55m across the side arms and is 0.19m thick. All three limbs have chamfered edges at the corners making them octagonal in section. The head is cemented to the shaft which stands to a height of 1.47m, is of octagonal section, and measures 0.28m wide at the base tapering to 0.21m 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 0.85m north-south by 0.85m east-west and is 0.51m high. The base is moulded to form an octagonal section top springing from a square section base. There is an inscription lightly incised on the west face of the base which reads `To him who raised this cross and to all faithful people pardon and peace grant O Lord Amen'. This base is mounted on a granite plinth which measures 1.06m north-south by 0.95m east-west and is 0.14m high. The head of this churchyard cross was found in 1870, turned upside down and reused as a kerb stone by the west entrance to the churchyard. It was reerected on a modern shaft and base on the east side of the south porch of the church. The style of the cross head suggests a late medieval date for the cross, and the modern shaft and base are very good copies of late medieval examples. The gravestone to the north of the cross and the two gravestones to the east, 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: 31842

Legacy System: RSM


Consulted July 1997, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 10693.4,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 61/71; Pathfinder Series 1372 Source Date: 1986 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing