Cross base 30m south of St Merryn's Church
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
- St. Merryn
- National Grid Reference:
- SW 88638 74113
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 cross base 30m south of St Merryn's Church survives as a rare example of a greenstone cross base. It is also unusual as the socket is set diagonally in the top. The cross base may mark the convergence of two church paths on the south side of the churchyard.
The monument includes a medieval wayside cross base situated 30m south of
St Merryn's Church in north Cornwall.
The cross base survives as a rectangular base of local greenstone set flush
with the ground. It measures 0.76m by 0.72m and has a rebate or bead around
the top edge. The rectangular socket or mortice is set diagonally in the top.
The socket measures 0.34m by 0.24m and is 0.25m deep. The cross base has been
fractured on two sides.
This cross base was discovered in the 1940s by an American airman, who
excavated it before being ordered to rebury it by the churchwarden. The cross
was mentioned by the historian, Langdon, in 1896. There is a local legend that
the cross was erected in 1422 when the south aisle was added to the church,
and that a greenstone cross now at Tresallyn Farm, 1km to the south east, was
the cross which originally stood in this base.
The gravestone to the north west of the cross base is excluded from the
scheduling where it falls within the monument's 2m protective margin, although
the ground beneath it 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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Stone Crosses of North Cornwall, (1992)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; Explorer 106; Newquay and Padstow Source Date: 1997 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