Wayside cross immediately north east of St John the Baptist's Church
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1019166
Date first listed: 07-Sep-2000
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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. Just
National Grid Reference: SW 38282 34238
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.
The wayside cross immediately north east of St John the Baptist's Church survives reasonably well as a good example of its type with Latin cross motifs on each face. The relocation of this cross first into the vicarage garden in the 19th century, then later into the churchyard, reflects the changing attitudes to religion and their impact on the local landscape since the medieval period.
The monument includes a medieval wayside cross situated at the north east
corner of St John the Baptist's Church at Pendeen, on the northern side of the
Penwith peninsula in west Cornwall.
The cross, which is 0.85m high, survives as an upright granite head mounted on
a large granite base. The head was originally in the form of a round or
`wheel' head but has been fractured on both sides. It now measures 0.57m high
by 0.32m wide and 0.21m thick. The overall height of the monument is 0.85m.
The principal faces are orientated north east-south west and both display a
relief Latin cross, the lower limb extending down the shaft. The shaft has
concave moulding on each edge. The cross head with its upper shaft is joined
to the base with a mortice and tenon joint, and cement. The roughly circular
base stone measures 1.03m north west-south east by 0.8m north east-south west
and is 0.28m thick.
By 1856 this cross was in the vicarage garden at Pendeen, where it was
illustrated by the historian Langdon in 1896. It remained there until the
1960s when it was removed to the churchyard and erected in its present
position. It has been suggested that the cross originally came from Portherras
to the north east of Pendeen. There is a field called `The Grouse' (Cornish
for cross) at SW 38803449 on the Tithe Apportionment Map of 1843, 600m north
east of the church.
The gravel surface of the footpath and the kerb stones to the north west and
south west of the cross, and the drain with its iron cover to the north west
are excluded from the scheduling where they fall within the monument's 2m
protective margin, although the ground beneath them 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: 31868
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of West Penwith, (1997)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; Explorer 102; Land's End Source Date: 1996 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