The stones of Lelant

© Maxwell Adams 1997-2011

Version 21 April 2011

There are eight old stones, usually called crosses, in Lelant village today. Since most of them have been moved about over the years, it is sensible periodically to identify them and recall the sometimes confused history of their movements and locations. I think the nineteenth century positions of all the stone crosses can be ascertained. Before that time nothing detailed appears to be known. In the perfervid past several seem to have suffered mutilation or misuse because of disagreements among Christians about religious imagery.

All but one of these in Lelant village are round-headed crosses, that is there is a granite shaft with a rounded top shaped like a wheel. Most of the tops and shafts are integral, carved from the same continuous granite stone, but some of the shafts are modern replacements. The Lelant crossheads carry various designs on both sides, the most striking being a crucifixion figure, presumably Jesus. Other designs are a Latin cross which is longer downwards than across and which is what we chiefly think of as a Christian cross; a decussate cross, also called a Saint Andrews cross, which is like the letter x; or a patulous cross which is a Greek cross (which has four equal arms like our plus sign in mathematics) but with the ends of the four arms widened. The crosses are of granite, a difficult rock to sculpt, and the designs are not finely executed. We can only speculate about the purposes and ages of these crosses. It has been robustly argued that some of the stone 'crosses' in Cornwall are pre-Christian religious monoliths, the crucifixion figure being a form of the ankh for example, but this is not discussed in this article (Dexter 1938).

Our accessible information about the Lelant crosses comes from the evidence of our own eyes, from maps, and from several books and manuscripts, the oldest being Victorian books by Hingston, Blight, Langdon, and Matthews, and an article in 1869 by Dunkin. The crosses have been moved and deteriorate over the years so maps and the accounts, illustrations, and descriptions in the earlier books are especially useful. In the earlier maps the crosses are called stones or stone crosses.

Let's start at the western edge of the village and walk eastwards and southwards. The name Parc an Grows (field of the cross) appears on Gascoyne's map of Gunwin of about 1696. On the 1820/1838 map of Lelant (Moody/Rutger) this is called Town Field but on this map and on the 1840 tithe map three other nearby fields are called Near(er) Park Grouse, Middle Park Grouse, and Further Park Grouse.

Cross A
There is a cross where Fat Lane to the Links holiday flats meets Church Lane. This is not a round-headed cross but a Latin cross on a shaft. The Latin cross part is much damaged with the top arm broken off. It was erected in its present position on top of the wall at the northeast corner of the junction in 1964 by St Ives Old Cornwall Society, having previously been in the bottom of the hedge wall (Old Cornwall 1965, volume 6, number 8, page 361). Langdon notes this cross (Langdon 1896, 213-4) and the 1908 and 1936 Ordnance Survey maps record it at its Fat Lane site though the 1880 map does not record it. When Mary Henderson saw the cross in the middle of this century it was still in the hedge and she gives an illustration of it and says that it was often difficult to see because overgrown with vegetation. She explains that this cross is definitely not earlier than medieval despite the older dating given against her advice on the modern plaque (Henderson page 329). Stanley Cock told me that the early dating was suggested by someone from Oxford University (Private correspondence 1997).

Now we are at the cemetery and churchyards and four of the five crosses here have been moved around in the last hundred or so years.

Cross B
Today in the centre of the cemetery there is a round-headed cross, much covered with lichen, with a long, integral shaft. The side facing the Church has a design of a long Latin cross on it, the other side has a very long crucifixion figure on. We can be sure about its earlier approximate position in the nineteenth century. Hingston has a drawing and description of this cross in place at the roadside in Lelant Lane (Hingston 1850, figure 6). Blight illustrates what appears to be the same cross and says that it is in Lelant on the side of the road from Longstone to Lelant Church (Blight Sketchbook 1 page 86. Also Blight (1856) page 14). Dunkin says he saw it on the "west side" of "a lane leading westward from the church into the St Ives road" and "about four feet from the hedge" (Dunkin 1869, 451). Langdon says it originally stood in Lelant Lane (Langdon 1896, 144-5) and Matthews agrees it stood on the side of the road from Lelant to St Ives (Matthews 1892, 39). All these locations put it in what is now called Church Lane. The Ordnance Survey map of about 1880, drawn from a survey three years earlier, shows a stone, presumably this cross, in Church Lane, about one hundred and fifty metres southeast of the turn to Gonwin. In spring 1877 the Cornish Telegraph reported that it had just been vandalised, apparently by Saint Ives fishermen who came to Lelant to paint their boats, presumably kept on the Mackerel Boats beach near the village railway station. The vandalism looks like Methodist zealotry, the word Popery being painted on the cross and the crucifixion figure on it being smeared with paint (Cornish Telegraph 17 April 1877). In spring 1878 for safety it was moved into the centre of the newly-opened cemetery and it is still there (Cornish Telegraph 12 March 1878).

Cross C
This round-headed cross on a shaft is also in the cemetery. It is right behind the more recent grave of Harry Smith of the Worcestershire Regiment and a few metres from the gate to the beach path. The visible shaft is now short and appears to be well-buried in the ground. The side facing the Church has a patulous cross on it with a stem from the bottom arm, the other side has a crucifixion figure on. This cross seems to have been unnoticed in the cemetery for much of the time.

According to the Cornish Telegraph of 12 March 1878 a cross was moved to the centre of the cemetery in summer 1877, the year the cemetery was opened. The newspaper says that the cross was moved again in 1878 (to make way for the vandalised Cross B) and " near as possible to the spot on which it stood just inside the eastern gate of the new burial-ground," namely, the beach path gate. This definitely sounds like Cross C but leaves open where it had precisely been before the cemetery opened. The Victorian writers give somewhat imprecise locations for the earlier site of the cross but two maps enable us, I think, to identify its previous position.

Blight in 1856 gives a drawing matching this cross which he says is outside the churchyard wall (Blight 1856, 31) and in his one of his sketchbooks he also draws it and places it at the Beach Gate, Lelant (Blight Sketchbook 1 page 83). He has a drawing of what is presumably this cross in that location (Blight Sketchbook 3 page 90). Langdon gives a description and a drawing of one that matches this Cross C and also says that it had previously stood outside the churchyard wall (Langdon 1896, 143-4). Polsue similarly places it (Polsue (1870) volume 3 page 99). Dunkin describes the cross (which he says has a "Maltese cross" on one side and an extended vertical stem) as "just without the churchyard near the door of the tower" (Dunkin 1869, 451). All these locations are reconcilable. Matthews describes this cross but does not say where it was before the cemetery opened (Matthews 1892, 39). A map of about 1840 (CRO: Lelant Towans map GHW/Praed 2/19) shows an ancient cross near the present beach path gate. The twenty-five-inch Ordnance Survey map surveyed in 1877 and published some three years later does not show the then new cemetery but shows a stone in the same position as the ancient cross of the earlier map, a few feet northwest of the beach path gate to the Church, that is, near but not at the present site of Cross C, and this is most probably the earlier site of Cross C. The twenty-five-inch 1908 and 1936 Ordnance Survey maps both record the site of a stone cross at the present position so presumably the cross was actually there.

RF TYacke, the vicar of St Uny's, noted in the burial register " The cross near the eastern end of the consecrated portion of the new burial ground stands in the same place as I found it when I came to St Uny Lelant in 1869. RFT " This is probably Cross C.

Cross D (The notes on Cross J should be read with these on Cross D)
There is a round-headed cross in the cinerary corner of the churchyard west of and near to the south door. This is a wheel on a new short shaft. The original shaft is lost. The side facing the church carries two arms of a patulous cross (the bottom and right arms, looking at the cross), the others being obliterated. This side also has a long slit in the middle. On the other side is a crucifixion figure. This is the most difficult Lelant cross of which to tell the history because it has been much moved and there is some confusing evidence which points to two crosses, but I think most of its history can be reconstructed.

In a note, poorly written and not entirely comprehensible, Blight says that a cross originally stood in a roadway near Trevethoe as a gatepost. Mr Praed had it set up on Trencrom Hill but some miners threw it down, breaking off its head which rolled down the hill - religious zealotry again, I suppose. The head was seen by Blight at a wall at Rosejarn (Blight Sketchbook 1 page 82). The note appears to refer to this Cross D. Rosejarn, spelt with and without a final letter e, is presumably what we call Rejarne, the area running from the southeastern foot of Trencrom Hill to the Old Mill Stables at Lelant Downs. Blight also gives a drawing of a shaftless wheel cross carrying a crucifix figure. It is by a wall with Trencrom Hill in the background, the wall looking like that of a garden rather than a house. The note with this drawing says Rosejarn, Trecroben Hill, Lelant, which suggests that it the same cross, and he adds that it has been twice removed (Blight Sketchbook 1 page 80). He says elsewhere that the reverse has a patulous cross (Blight 1856, 57 and 6). This cross looks identical to the cross now in the cinerary corner of the churchyard.

Doble (who, I think, confuses Cross D and Cross J) says that, on being rolled down, the cross lodged in a cottage garden halfway up the southern slope of Trencrom Hill and lay against the wall of the house until 1912 when part of the cottage was rebuilt and the cross went missing (Doble 1939, 11). Doble does not give the source for his information.

In about 1916 HP Hurrell of Lelant showed Thurstan C Peter a cross that he had discovered lying by some cottages near Trencrom Hill and this ties in with Doble's account. For safe keeping it was removed to Trevethoe in the same year and Hurrell helped in its unearthing from a veronica hedge there in 1940. Fortunately, these 1916 and 1940 histories were recounted very fully in Old Cornwall for 1941 (volume 3, number 10, pages 430-431). According to Baird it was moved, through the help of St Ives Old Cornwall Society, into the churchyard in the 1950s. We can be reasonably sure that the Rosejarn cross of Blight, the one found and refound by Hurrell, and the one now in the churchyard are one and the same. There have been very speculative attempts to identify this cross with one which marked the Lelant and St Erth boundary near Rose-an-Grouse in the twelfth century

We can identify the Trencrom cottages by which the toppled cross head came to rest. The 1941 Old Cornwall article says that the cottages are by the side of the old churchpath between Marazion and St Ives, a path which is now part of St Michaels Way. Doble's compass was awry: the details given by Blight and the 1941 Old Cornwall article and the lie of Trencrom point to the cross heads being rolled, not south but southeast, to the cottage now called September Cottage which was once two cottages or, though less likely, the nearby Dream Cottage.

There is a puzzle that I cannot solve. Langdon gives a drawing of this cross, places it at Trevethoe, Lelant, and dates this drawing and place 17 June 1909 (Langdon 1909, figure 22). This is difficult to tie in with its rediscovery near Trencrom in 1916 and suggests what I think is an extremely eccentric itinerary for the cross (Trevethoe-Trencrom-Rosejarn-Trevethoe-Trencrom-Trevethoe-Lelant Churchyard).

Cross E
There is a cross in the churchyard, by the path from the south door of the Church to the new southern churchyard. This is a round-headed cross, much covered with lichen, with a tall, integral shaft and on both sides there is a decussate cross with a central boss. There is a significant crack, apparently natural, at the bottom of both the north and south sides of the cross. Hingston, Blight, Langdon, and Matthews identify this in the churchyard (Hingston 1850, figure 37; Blight 1856, 26; Blight Sketchbook 1 page 83; Langdon 1896, 97-8; Matthews 1892, 39). A cross is marked here as a stone on the twenty-five-inch 1880 Ordnance Survey map. Dunkin also identifies this cross "in a conspicuous position" within the churchyard, but describes it as having a "Maltese cross" on both sides (Dunkin 1869, 451).

Cross F
There is a round-headed cross with a long shaft in the southern extension of the churchyard which opened in the 1930s. On the side of the head facing the Church is a crudely-carved crucifixion figure and on the other side no design is discernible and also on this side a piece of the top is broken off. I do not know whether a design has worn away or been removed, or was never there. On both the eastern side of the head and on the plain face is a hole which suggests that it was used as a gate post. I have found no early drawings of this cross. Langdon describes a cross that he found built sideways into the hedge a little way down the beach path in a southernly direction from the Church. Langdon adds a crucial piece of descriptive evidence: a large piece is broken off the top, and there is a hole in the side of the head (Langdon 1896, 223-4). Langdon is certainly describing Cross F now in the centre of the southern cemetery.

There are two resolvable uncertainties. There is an undated photograph of Cross B in the centre of the cemetery (Matthews 1892, 26). In the background there is another round-headed cross. It is unclear and I cannot be certain but it appears to be by the beach path a few metres south of the side gate to the Church. It isn't there now and I do not know which cross it is but perhaps it is Cross F.

Secondly, in 1907 Langdon says of his hole-in-the-side cross, 'Moved to churchyard.' (Enys Interleaved against Langdon's cross number 5). The 1908 Ordnance Survey map shows two crosses in the main churchyard, one plainly Cross E but a second one is shown a little way to the southwest of this near the churchyard gate. I do not know what cross this second one was and it is not there in the map of 1936 or now, but it makes Langdon's reference intriguing. In fact the 1936 map shows a stone cross where this one now is. I am reasonably sure that this cross was moved from the beach path into the main churchyard and then moved to its present position in the southern extension of the churchyard later.

Thurstan Peter says "Two further crosses have been discovered (in 1905) by Mr Langdon built into walls near the church. These are about to be properly erected" (Peter 1906, 435). One of these is Cross F and it was probably erected at that time in the main churchyard, as on the Ordnance Survey map, rather than its southern extension. I do not know which is the second cross that Peters refers to here.

Cross G
Langdon mentions that the round head of a cross with a few inches of its shaft was standing in a recess of the hedge opposite the Praeds Arms Inn. He does not describe it fully but he gives its dimensions (Langdon 1896, 220). Elsewhere he draws in 1906 a cross which is presumably this one and which he places in Lelant Churchtown (Langdon 1909, figure 32). Matthews also mentions a round cross head on a wall opposite the inn (page 39). The inn, formerly the New Inn, the Praeds Arms, and the Lelant Hotel, is now called The Badger and the wall and a round-headed cross in the wall have gone. However, at that spot is the War Memorial, standing by a well unused for twenty years when it was finally closed off in 1896 (Cornish Telegraph 9 April and 4 June 1896). The memorial is topped by a round-headed cross with a foreshortened shaft, the same cross that Langdon and Matthews mention. It is still visibly distinct from the 1920s arrangement of stones on which it stands. Both faces of this cross head are plain and hollowed out which suggest mutilation. A cross is marked here on Moodys 1820 map of Lelant, the only one in the village on it, and on the 1880 Ordnance Survey map as a stone, and Blight mentions but does not draw or describe a cross which he places succinctly in Lelant Churchtown which most likely means this one but which could mean Cross H (Blight 1856, 57). Dunkin mentions two crosses in "Lelant town" and says both are "in a sadly disfigured and mutilated condition" (Dunkin 1869, 451). On one of them nothing can be surely seen and that tallies with this cross; the other is cross H.

Cross H
There is a round-headed cross on the northeast corner of the wall of the Saltings at the junction with the main road in the southern part of the village. The side facing the road carries a Latin cross with a hole in the centre. The other side has a large piece broken off the top and carries part of a worn or mutilated design that is difficult to interpret but is a cross or a figure. Blight has a drawing of the Latin cross side of this and he says only that it is in Lelant Village 1866 (Blight Sketchbook 1 page 86). Some identify this drawing as Cross G, wrongly I think. Dunkin identifies the cross as in "Lelant town" and says a "Latin cross is plainly seen" on it (Dunkin 1869, 451). Langdon illustrates this cross and notes it is in Sea Lane, the old name for this part of The Saltings (Langdon 1896, 114). Matthews in 1892 says that recently someone had marked out the design on this cross with tar (Matthews 1892, 39). Despite these references it is not marked here or anywhere nearby on the 1880 Ordnance Survey map but is marked here on the 1908 map.

Cross J
Blight mentions, as well as Cross D at Rosejarn, a cross at 'Trecoven Hill, Lelant - mutilated.' The two references in the same list make it clear that he is writing about two different crosses (Blight 1856, 57). Trecoven is presumably Trencrom Hill. Additionallly, in his Sketchbook he mentions and draws a cross that was at Lelant Downs, was moved to Trencrom Hill, and had been since destroyed (Blight Sketchbook 1 page 88). These Trecoven and Lelant Downs crosses are likely one and the same. Hingston has a drawing of a cross which he places on Lelant Downs, with Knills Monument in the background, and which looks like Blight's cross at Lelant Downs (Hingston 1850, figure 4). Both drawings show a crucifixion figure elongated into the shaft of the cross and therefore differing from that on Cross D. I cannot unravel this with sureness, there are ambiguities and difficulties in the texts, but it appears likely that there were two crosses in the area: D and another one, now lost, formerly at Lelant Downs and then at Trencrom Hill, which I shall call Cross J. Neither the 1880 or the 1908 Ordnance Survey maps shows crosses or stones at Trencrom or Lelant Downs.

Chief sources

BAIRD RD Cornish crosses (circa 1961) [typescript at the Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro, text and photographs, not paginated]
BLIGHT JT (1856) Ancient crosses aaand other antiquities in the west of West Cornwall
BLIGHT JT (1865) Churches of West Cornwall Parker and Co, London [pages 129-130, 2nd edition of 1885 at Truro Reference Library. Based on articles Blight published in Gentlemans Magazine 1862-1864]
BLIGHT JT Sketchbook 1, pages 80, 82, 83, 85, 86, 88, 89 [front page dated 1856, drawings in pencil or ink and with a few brief notes, at the Morrab Library, Penzance]
BLIGHT JT Sketchbook 3, page 90 [not dated, at the Morrab Library, Penzance] Cornish Telegraph 17 April 1877 and 12 March 1878
Cornwall and Scillies sites and monuments record Cornwall Archeological Unit, Truro [records the present grid position of the crosses]
DANIELL JJ (1854): see PETER Thurstan (1906)
DEXTER TFG and Henry (1938) Cornish crosses: Christian and pagan Longmans Green, London
DOBLE GH (1939) Lananta, page 11
DUNKIN EHW (1869) 'Notes on some of the ancient stone crosses of west Cornwall' in Notes and queries for 15 May 1868, pages 450-451 [Volume 3, number 72]
ELLIS GE (1941) 'Two ancient crosses recently found in West Cornwall' in Old Cornwall 1941, volume 3, number 10, pages 430-31
ENYS John Davies Interleaved edition of Langdons Old Cornish crosses [at the Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro]
GASCOYNE Joel (1690s) Lanhydrock Atlas, includes a map of Gonwin for 1696 [at Cornwall Record Office, Truro, reference FS 2/ 32/1/7. There is a twentieth century copy of the 1696 Gonwin map at the Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro.]
HENDERSON Charles (1930) Notes for a Langdon supplement page 69 [at the Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro]
HENDERSON Mary A survey of ancient crosses of Cornwall 1952-1983, page 329 [at the Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro]
HINGSTON FC (1850) Specimens of ancient Cornish crosses, fonts, etc [figures 4, 6, 37]
Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall for 1958, page 304
LANGDON AG (1896) Old Cornish crosses, 98, 114, 144, 161, 213-214, 223-224
LANGDON AG (1906) 'Early Christian monuments' in Victoria history of the county of Cornwall, pages 426, 429
LANGDON AG (1909) Additional crosses, figure 22 [at the Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro]
Lelant Towans map circa 1840 [at Cornwall Record Office, Truro, reference GHW/PRAED 2/19]
LYSONS Samuel (1844) Additional manuscript 9462 folio 43 (in Catalogue of the maps etc in the British Museum 1844, volume 11 (now British Library):a pencil sketch by Samuel LYSONS of capitals in Lelant church and of two crosses in Lelant churchyard
MATTHEWS JH (1892) History of the parishes of St Ives, Lelant, Towednack, and Zennor, page 39
MOODY Charles (1820) A survey of Lelant [a copy of the maps of the Manor of Lelant and Trevethow, the Praed/Trevethow estates made in 1838 by I Rutger, including reference book, at the Royal Institution of Cornwall, Truro, reference HJ 5/4a, 4b. The original map was by Moody. The cross fields are listed on page 41 of the reference book.]
Old Cornwall 1941, volume 3, number 10, pages 430-431 (see ELLIS GE); and 1965, volume 6, number 8, page 361
Ordnance Survey maps of Lelant, twenty-five-inch scale, for (circa) 1880, 1908, 1936 Ordnance Survey maps for Trencrom Hill and Lelant Downs, twenty-five-inch scale, for (circa) 1880 and 1908
PETER Thurstan (1906 revised edition by Thurstan Peter of A compendium of the geography and history of Cornwall by JJ DANIELL, originally published 1854?, Netherton and Worth, Truro)
POLSUE Joseph (1870) Parochial history of the county of Cornwall [volume 3, page 99]
RUSSELL Vivien (1971) West Penwith survey. Russell says p 86 in Blights Sketchbook 1 is of Cross G but I consider it Cross H.
RUTGER I (1838) See MOODY Charles
Tithe map and apportionment book circa 1840 [At Cornwall Record Office. The references to the cross fields are on page 42 of the copy of the apportionment book at the Royal Institution of Cornwall.]
Western Antiquary January 1884, page 204b [copy at Morrab Library, Penzance]


HALLIWELL-PHILLIPS James Orchard (1820-1889) Rambles in western Cornwall in the footsteps of the giants (1861) London, John Russell Smith, pages 60-61: "Outside the churchyard, near the gateway, is an ancient cross, a small but perfect specimen. In the churchyard itself, is another of larger dimensions, and appearance of higher antiquity."

Ecclesiologist volume 12, London, 1851, page 341: " St Uny Lelant, crosses have recently been erected."