Ancient Monuments

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Part of an early Christian Chapel enclosure at The Old Vicarage

A Scheduled Monument in St. Eval, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.4858 / 50°29'8"N

Longitude: -5.0035 / 5°0'12"W

OS Eastings: 187030.027703

OS Northings: 69417.631099

OS Grid: SW870694

Mapcode National: GBR ZJ.3GWZ

Mapcode Global: FRA 07DS.4HN

Entry Name: Part of an early Christian Chapel enclosure at The Old Vicarage

Scheduled Date: 15 May 1975

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005453

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 909

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Eval

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Eval

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes part of an early Christian chapel enclosure surrounding the grounds of The Old Vicarage to the north of St Eval Airfield. The enclosure survives as a semicircular bank, which has been largely incorporated into the present field boundaries, with a largely buried outer ditch. It was partially cut during the Second World War when the building was used as an RAF billet. The central area is excluded from the monument because it contains The Old Vicarage.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-918263

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The monument is an early Christian 'cill' a word derived from Gaelic and referring to the place of a saint's or hermits cell, chapel or church and often associated graveyard. An early Christian chapel is a purpose-built structure, usually rectangular and often comprising a single undivided room, which contained a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate for Christian worship in the early medieval period (c.AD 400-1100). Until the seventh century, such chapels were mostly constructed of wood, often being replaced in stone at a later date. The Venerable Bede (c.673-735) provides an account of the transition from wooden to stone building in Northumbria, and there are references in the saints' vitae and in early Irish sources to the various building traditions. They are mainly restricted to the northern and western parts of England. A number of early Christian chapels have been found to be located at earlier burial sites, the grave of a saint or ecclesiastical founder providing the focal point. Chapels of this early period are sometimes referred to as oratories. In all cases, however, the chapels would have served as a place of prayer for a religious community, in some cases located within an early monastic site and set with other buildings in an enclosure called a vallum monasterii. Early Christian chapels of this type and function should be distinguished from the later parochial chapels of the medieval period which served a secular community, and were mostly designed for larger congregational worship. Certain of the early chapels which became identified with particular saints became places of veneration for medieval pilgrims, and, such was the desire to be buried close to the relics of the saint, that the burial tradition often continued in proximity to the chapel. Many early chapels, with their strong associations with saints, will have been subsumed within later and grander religious structures, and their survival in anything like their original form is therefore rare. The remains of early Christian chapels, where they can be positively identified, will contain important archaeological information relating to the development of Christianity. The part of an early Christian Chapel enclosure at The Old Vicarage is extremely unusual because it was not subsequently re-used as the site of a church or graveyard. It will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, longevity, function, religious, social and political significance, abandonment and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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