is extremely rich in ancient monuments and antiquities of all sorts.
One of the most conspicuous features of the Cornish countryside
are the stone crosses, which cannot be seen anywhere else in the country
in such numbers or varieties.
There are over four hundred complete stone crosses standing in
the county and at least another two hundred fragments, with an
increasing number of modern replicas
CROSSES - The most common type of Cornish cross is the wayside
cross which, as its name implies, stands at the side of roads,
ancient tracks and footpaths.
Its main function was to mark the route to the parish
In medieval Cornwall outlying farms and hamlets were
usually linked to the churchtown by the most direct and level
The wayside cross was also used to mark tracks to sites
of pilgrimage, monastic sites, ancient chapels and holy wells.
the beach at Marazion there is a rock known as Chapel Rock
which, it is said, was used by pilgrims as the last shrine
before visiting the Mount; here a chapel dedicated to the
Blessed Virgin Mary stood until 1645.
Half-way across the causeway, between Chapel Rock and the
Mount, is the base of an ancient cross, still beside the
The cross is said to have been broken down in a storm in
Base of Marazion Causeway Cross
Latin cross still stands next to the holy well at St. Cleer on
Bodmin Moor, and another cross stands near a footpath to Madron
Well near Boswarthen Farm in Madron parish.
crosses stood at chapel sites, like the cross at Lanherne
Convent at St Mawgan in Pydar that was originally discovered on
the site of a chapel at Roseworthy in Gwinear parish.
crosses were placed beside the banks of rivers to mark a safety
At St Clether on the east side of Bodmin Moor, where a
footpath crosses the River Inney,
a large wheel-headed cross stands on the south bank
marking shallow water and a firm footing.
St Clether Cross
Cross at Bodmin still marks the parish boundary between Bodmin
and Cardinham, while on Tregonetha Downs a cross known as 'Cross
and Hand' stands at the intersection of three parish boundaries;
those of St Columb Major, St Wenn and Roche. According to
Arthur Langdon in his publication Old Cornish Crosses, the Nine Maidens Down Cross which now stands in
the grounds of Clowance Estate in Crowan parish originally
marked the boundary of no less than four parishes.
Cardinham the glebe land was also marked by crosses, four in
total, and Rostigan Cross is mentioned as a bound stone for
glebe land at St Wenn in a terrier dated 1601.
CROSSES - Another reason for the large number of crosses around
the Cornish countryside is that the stones were also used to
Crosses were set up to mark parish boundaries, and the
boundaries of glebe land. They may also have marked monastic
land and the extended sanctuaries that a very few parish
During the post medieval period several crosses were
adopted as manorial or personal boundaries, with initials being
carved on the cross or itís base-stone.
CROSSES - There are a number of inscribed stones and inscribed
crosses in the county, most of which were erected as a memorial
to some local king or chieftain.
One of the most famous memorial crosses in Cornwall is
the King Doniert Stone at St Cleer, which is the pedestal of a
fine late 9th century decorated cross.
Additional examples of crosses with inscriptions can be
seen at Sancreed, Cardinham and Lanteglos by Camelford.
King Doniert Stone
CROSSES - The most elaborate crosses in Cornwall are usually
found in our parish churchyards.
In many cases the churchyard or burial ground existed
before the building of a church or oratory.
Some of these crosses may have been erected to mark the
Christian burial site, prior to the building of the church.
majority of these churchyard crosses are impressive monuments
and were decorated rather than plainly carved like the wayside
and boundary crosses. There is no evidence to suggest that any
of the churchyard crosses in Cornwall are earlier than the late
9th century, and most are considered to be between the 10th and
The setting up of churchyard crosses continued through
the centuries: less decorated examples followed during the
medieval period and by the 15th century lantern crosses were
being erected in churchyards.
St Mawgan in Pydar Lantern Cross
CROSSES - In Cornwall there are only a few true village or
market crosses, although in some cases a wayside cross has been
adapted for this function.
They were usually set up by religious groups or
authorities as a reminder of Our Lord during the day to day
bustle of secular life.
There are the remains of a village cross at St. Ewe, on a
stepped base, which is still one of the focal points of the
In the past, proclamations would be read at the village
cross and public meetings conducted there.
At many of these crosses merchants sold their goods and
so some became named after the goods sold there.
For example at Winchester there is a Butter Cross, while
the elaborate cross at Salisbury is known as the Poultry Cross.
There are records in Cornwall to indicate that at both
Redruth and St Columb Major there was a Fish Cross.
Taxes and market dues might be paid at the cross to the
Lord of the Manor or a religious house.
St Ewe Cross...
a later date some market crosses had elaborate shelters built
over them to protect traders and tax collectors from the
Gothic style structures and canopies can still be seen in
many English villages, made of timber or stone, usually
octagonal in plan and even if a conventional cross did not
exist, the structures were still known as Market Crosses, as at
Dunster in Somerset and Malmesbury in Wiltshire.
At Newport, St Stephen by Launceston is the only example
of a market cross enclosed by a canopy in Cornwall; the
structure dates to the early 19th century.
As the need for larger covered areas on market days
increased many of these structures were demolished to make way
for more conventional market halls.
Market Cross House Newport
Market Cross, Newport