Wayside cross immediately south of St Towennicus' Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019167

Date first listed: 10-Oct-1933

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Jun-2000


Ordnance survey map of Wayside cross immediately south of St Towennicus' 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: Towednack

National Grid Reference: SW 48704 38070


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

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 south of St Towennicus' Church survives well and is a good example of a `wheel' headed wayside cross with Latin cross motifs on each face. The reuse of the cross as building stone, its discovery and re- erection in a garden in the 19th century, and removal to the churchyard early in the 20th century demonstrates well the changing attitudes to religion and their impact on the local landscape since the medieval period.


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


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross situated by the south porch of St Towennicus' Church on the northern side of the Penwith peninsula in west Cornwall. The cross, which is 0.93m high, survives as an upright granite shaft with a round or `wheel' head. The head measures 0.37m high by 0.36m wide and 0.18m thick with the principal faces orientated north-south. Both principal faces display a relief Latin cross, the lower limb extending down onto the upper shaft. The shaft measures 0.25m wide by 0.2m thick. The cross has a distinct lean to the south east. This cross was found built into the chimney stack of a cottage called the `Church House' at Coldharbour, 500m south east of St Towennicus' Church. By 1880 the cottage had fallen into a ruinous state and the cross was thus discovered. It was removed to a garden at Tredorwin, 2km south west of Towednack where the historian Langdon recorded it. Around 1910 the cross was re-erected in its present position in the churchyard. The cross is Listed Grade II. The concrete surface of the footpath to the west of the cross, the low wall to the east and the granite steps to the south 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.


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

Legacy System number: 31869

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