Register of ancient monuments
Reference number 1009288
DESCRIPTION OF THE MONUMENT
The monument is a gritstone wayside cross located near the edge of Stansfield Moor. It comprises a bowed shaft of bevelled rectangular section surmounted by a form of wheel cross-head. The cross is free-standing and is not set into a socle or cross base but directly into the ground. A number of stones have been wedged against the bottom to keep it upright.
The head consists of an equal-armed cross whose arms or spandrels are steeply splayed and have curving terminals and roughly circular angles. The gaps between the spandrels are filled in with a feature known as a plate. This appears to have originally had narrow strips of roll moulding round its edges. The centre of each face has a raised boss with a roll moulded rim though, on the NE face, this feature is broken. The cross-head is separate from the shaft and has an integral collar most clearly visible on the NE side. The cross-head measures 65cm from top to bottom and 55cm from side to side while the central bosses are each c22cm wide and the unbroken example is raised c4cm. The shaft is 130cm tall and measures 18cm wide on its NW and SE faces and a maximum of 38cm on its SW and NE faces. The broad faces taper slightly at both top and bottom but the narrow faces are of fairly uniform width. Round the top of the shaft can be seen traces of a collar consisting of two or three bands of roll moulding. Faint tool marks can be seen all over the cross, as can diagonal bands of natural glacial striations. Towards the bottom of the shaft on the NE side are what appears to be extremely faint traces of vine-scroll decoration which would suggest a fairly early date for the cross, possibly tenth or eleventh century. The irregularity of the carving overall tends to indicate that the cross is no earlier. The cross is orientated SW-NE so that the SW face overlooks the bridleway on that side. This suggests that the cross marked an ancient route across the moor, though it may also have marked an ecclesiastical division or estate boundary.
ASSESSMENT OF IMPORTANCE
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 earthfast monuments, except those which are extremely damaged and removed from their original locations, are considered worthy of protection.
Mount Cross is a good and well preserved example of a crudely carved wayside cross whose importance is enhanced by the intact survival of the cross-head.