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Churchyard cross and three wayside crosses in St Neot 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: Churchyard cross and three wayside crosses in St Neot churchyard

List entry Number: 1018698

Location

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

County:

District: Cornwall

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: St. Neot

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 19-May-1952

Date of most recent amendment: 04-Feb-1999

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 31843

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

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 Neot churchyard survives well, despite the loss of part of its head, as a good example of a highly decorated churchyard cross. It remains in its original location, and maintains its original function as a churchyard cross. The three wayside crosses in St Neot churchyard are good examples of the uncommon `Latin' cross type, and their removal into the churchyard in the 19th century demonstrates well the changing attitudes to religion since the medieval period.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a medieval churchyard cross and three medieval wayside crosses situated within the churchyard at St Neot. The churchyard cross survives as an upright granite shaft with a fragment of a cross head mounted on top. The shaft measures 1.93m high by 0.52m wide and is 0.39m thick. All four corners have a bead running down them and each face is divided into three panels, each bearing decoration in relief, interlace and knotwork designs. On the top of this shaft is the central boss of an ornate cross head of the four hole type. In the 19th century the cross shaft was lying against the south wall of the church, but in 1889 it was re-erected on the St Neot stone to the south of the church porch. The St Neot stone was probably the original base stone of the cross and had remained in its original location. In 1929 the fragment of cross head was found in a wall near the churchyard, and later mounted on top of the shaft. The St Neot stone is not visible as it is covered with turf. To the north west of the churchyard cross is a wayside cross from Crowpound, which survives as an upright granite head and shaft 1.22m high. The head has unenclosed arms, a form called a `Latin' cross, its principal faces orientated north-south. The head measures 0.74m wide across the side arms, each of which is 0.32m high, and 0.28m thick. The shaft measures 0.43m wide by 0.24m thick. The cross leans backwards slightly towards the south. This cross was originally recorded in the early 19th century at Crowpound on Goonzion Downs to the west of St Neot, but was removed to the churchyard by the Revd Grylls sometime between 1821 and 1862 while he was Vicar of St Neot. It was moved to its present position in the churchyard in 1919. Crows is Cornish for cross and the rectangular pound at Crowpound is probably the original site of the cross. To the north of the churchyard cross is a second wayside cross which survives as an upright granite head and shaft 0.47m high. The Latin cross head has principal faces orientated north-south. The head measures 0.74m across the side arms, each of which is 0.3m high and 0.17m thick. The upper limb is missing, fractured at some time in the past; the lower limb extends down the length of the shaft. The shaft measures 0.33m wide by 0.17m thick. The cross is decorated with an incised Latin cross on both principal faces. This cross was first recorded in 1870 in the vicarage garden, and was moved into the churchyard in 1919 when much of its shaft was sunk into the ground. It has been suggested that this cross originally marked a church path. To the north east of the churchyard cross is a third wayside cross which survives as an upright granite head and shaft 1.6m high. The Latin cross head has principal faces orientated north-south. The head measures 0.67m across the side arms, both of which are 0.22m high and 0.14m thick. Both principal faces bear an incised Latin cross, the lower limb extending down the shaft. The shaft measures 0.33m wide by 0.24m thick. This wayside cross was first recorded in the vicarage gardens; its former history is unknown, although it has been suggested that it may have come from Bodmin Moor. The metalled footpath and the steps to the north of the crosses, the row of gravestones to the west, the gravestone to the south and the row of gravestones to the south east where they fall within the monument'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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses in East Cornwall, (1996)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses in East Cornwall, (1996)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses in East Cornwall, (1996)
Other
Consulted July 1997, Cornwall SMR Entry for PRN No. 17151,
Consulted July 1997, Cornwall SMR Entry for PRN No. 17153,
Consulted July 1997, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.17149,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 06/16; Pathfinder Series 1347 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

National Grid Reference: SX 18595 67840

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

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End of official listing