All along the route, crosses are landmarks for the pilgrims. These crosses, made of wood, stone or metal, attest the impact of christianisation and the religious fervour in these areas. There is a ide diversity of crosses, which have often a specific function.
There are, of course, devotional crosses: these are pilgrim crosses which are often located on heights near villages.
The are also directional crosses in the crossing of the ways or along the route. They were built in large number in the Middle Ages to christianize the places: they guide and protect travelers along the road of pilgrimage.
Other crosses located along the road may also be crosses in memory of an event which has occured in this place or in memory of someone – sometimes a deceased person. Crosses may also be joined to war memorials.
Since the beginning of the 17th century (after the Edict of Nantes was signed), mission crosses have been planted. Many others were planted after the French Revolution: after this troubled period, the representatives of the Catholic Church wanted to give a new birth to religious involvement. Other mission crosses dateto the 19th or 20th centuries.
Boundary crosses can be found at the entrance of a village or are used to delimit cultivated fields.
There are also many other sorts of crosses, in various areas, such as squares, churches, graveyards, bridges, houses, springs, fountains…
Some wrought-iron crosses are adorned with symbols of the Crucifixion, especially the spear used by the soldier to hit the Christ in the flank, the words attributed to Pontius Pilatus “INRI” (Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”), or the rooster which reminds the denial of Peter (Jesus had tod Peter that before the rooster crows, he would disown him three times).
Among other noticeable crosses along the way to Saint Guilhem, one can mention the cross of La Rode, in the Aubrac region; the cross on the Bridge of the Pilgrims at Saint-Chély-d’Aubrac, at the bottom of which we can see a pilgrim; on the Causse Méjean, the cross of Le Buffre can be admired. At Saint-Pierre-des-Tripiers, a cross depicts a shepherd with his herd. The ewes and the rye sheaf remind of the way of life on the Causse. Surprinsingly, crosses can sometimes also be seen at the top of menhirs, as it is the case in the hamlet of Les Lavagnes – a way for the Christians of the 4th and 5th centuries to make theirs these old sacred stones.