Standing cross 120m south west of Little Carnkief


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Standing cross 120m south west of Little Carnkief
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SW 78106 53190

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 standing cross 120m south west of Little Carnkief survives very well. It is considered to be in its original location, and the old land surface and remains of human activity associated with it can be expected to survive below ground level beneath and around it. The association with manorial bounds illustrates well the use of crosses to mark and legitimise property boundaries.


The scheduling includes a medieval standing cross, with evidence of use as a manorial boundary marker, situated on a moderate west slope, south east of Perranporth. Old maps and documents indicate that the cross is in its original position. The cross has a head and shaft carved from a single piece of granite, with smooth surfaces. From the front and back, its profile is fairly symmetrical, with a rounded head, slightly pointed at the top and flattened at the bottom, above a shaft tapering to ground level. From the sides the whole is rectangular in outline. The cross measures up to 0.55m north east-south west by 0.23m north west-south east, and stands 1.01m high. The cross head is 0.55m wide, 0.38m high, and 0.23m thick. It protrudes 0.05m- 0.06m beyond the top of the shaft on either side. The shaft is 0.44m wide at the top, and 0.35m wide at present ground surface. Its corners are slightly rounded. The south west side of the shaft is inscribed immediately below the head with the name of an adjoining manor, Nansmellyn, indicating that the cross was used as mark on the boundary of this manor, and it is thought to have been recorded as such in the 16th century. The inscription runs horizontally across the width of the shaft, and has a total height of 0.3m. It has well-formed capital lettering 0.06m high arranged in three lines, reading NANS/MEL/LYN. The modern road surface and all modern pipes and associated fittings, where these fall within the cross's protective margin, are excluded from the scheduling, 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.

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Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896), 220
Langdon, A, Boundstone Or Cross?, 2000, Forthcoming, in Old Cornwall Journal
Mercer, RJ, AM7, (1973)
MS at RIC library, Truro, Henderson, C, Calendars, Calendars, (1920)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:2500 Map Source Date: 1880 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: Perranzabuloe Tithe Apportionment Source Date: 1840 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

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