Introduction

The cross at St Buryan is a notable feature of the churchyard, located to the right of the path leading from the main gate at the centre of the village to the church’s south doorway.

It is a composite granite monument with stonework of several periods. The head is part of the original 10th century churchyard cross. Only a small section of the shaft survives,  sitting in a granite base-stone which may be of the same date. The stepped pedestal may be of late medieval or post medieval origin, and to this a fifth step was added in the late 19th century. There may have been lower courses of steps now buried or robbed out.

With a Crucifixion on one side of the head and five bosses on the other, the cross-head is typical of pre-Norman crosses in the far west of Cornwall. When complete it may have been one of the most impressive of the group.[1] It is likely that the cross-shaft was cut off and re-used as building stone in the 15th century when the church was extended and rebuilt.

The 10th century cross-head measures 0.83m high by 0.64m wide and is 0.24m thick. The overall height of the monument is 2.07m and the extent of the pedestal at ground level is 4.7m by 4.7m.

St Buryan was the principal pre-Norman church of the Land’s End (Penwith) peninsula, and is first recorded in a charter of the first half of the 10th century.[2] In all probability this charter represents confirmation of the existence of a pre-existing religious house since the saint, Berion, is recorded earlier, in a 10th century List of Cornish saints.[3]  In Domesday Book, the church of St Buryan was held by the Canons of St Berrione and it remained a collegiate church throughout the medieval period.[4]

In addition to its historic importance, the cross has significance as a well-known focal point within both the churchyard and village of St Buryan.

 

HER INFORMATION AND DESIGNATION DETAILS

NGR: SW 4091 2569

Historic Environment Record:  106286

http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=MCO5800&resourceID=1020

Scheduled Monument: 115060 (Legacy 29218)

http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=1015060&resourceID=5

Listed Building 1137748 (Legacy 69688)

http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=1137748&resourceID=5

 

The cross forms part of the setting of a Grade 1 Listed Church

East (main) face of St Buryan churchyard cross

 

West face of St Buryan churchyard Cross

 

South face of St Buryan churchyard cross

 

North face of St Buryan churchyard cross

 

[1] A. Preston-Jones and E. Okasha, 2013. Early Cornish Sculpture, 90, 126-7.

[2] N. Orme, 2010, The Victoria County History of the Counties of England: A History of Cornwall, Vol II, Religious History to 1560, 128.

[3] B.L. Olson and O.J. Padel 1986, . ‘A Tenth-Century List of Cornish Parochial Saints’ Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies, XII, 48.

[4] C.G. Henderson, 1925, Cornish Church Guide, 34-6.