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


Ordnance survey map of Wayside cross immediately north east of St John the Baptist's 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. 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 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 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:

End of official listing