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The South Hill inscribed stone, an early Christian memorial stone in South Hill churchyard, 50m west of St Sampson's Church

A Scheduled Monument in South Hill, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.5294 / 50°31'45"N

Longitude: -4.3592 / 4°21'32"W

OS Eastings: 232889.935662

OS Northings: 72618.40355

OS Grid: SX328726

Mapcode National: GBR NL.J239

Mapcode Global: FRA 17RN.PJQ

Entry Name: The South Hill inscribed stone, an early Christian memorial stone in South Hill churchyard, 50m west of St Sampson's Church

Scheduled Date: 1 June 1923

Last Amended: 21 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014016

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26251

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: South Hill

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: South Hill

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone, known as the South
Hill inscribed stone, situated in the churchyard at South Hill in south east
Cornwall.
The South Hill inscribed stone survives as an erect granite shaft set in a
rectangular base stone. The overall height of the monument is 1.66m. The east
principal face of the shaft measures 0.35m wide at the base tapering to 0.21m
wide at the top. The west face measures 0.18m wide at the base widening
slightly to 0.21m at the top. The shaft is 0.28m thick at the base tapering
slightly to 0.26m at the top; the sides slope in from the wider east face
towards the narrower west face. The top of the shaft has been fractured.
At the upper end of the east principal face of the shaft is an incised motif
called a `Chi Rho' monogram, visible as an upright cross formed from a capital
letter `I' with a central curved cross-bar. The terminal of the upper limb
curves over to form a letter `P', the cross limbs terminate in rounded ends.
The top 0.3m of the east face of the shaft, where the monogram is incised,
slants backwards slightly towards the west. The `Chi Rho' monogram is an early
medieval shorthand symbol for Christ, formed by the first two Greek letters
for Christ, and dated in south west England from the later fifth to seventh
centuries AD. Below the `Chi Rho' monogram two transverse curved lines are
incised one above the other, above a Latin inscription incised in two parallel
lines running down the shaft. This inscription reads CVMREGN- FILI MAVC-
which translates as `Cumregnus son of Maucus'. The use of the Chi Rho
monogram, the formula of the Latin inscription and the style of the lettering
combine to suggest a sixth century date for this memorial stone.
The west face of the memorial stone is plain and undecorated except for a
small brass plaque bearing an inscription `Romano British monument IV - VI
century Cumregni Filimaugi Discovered in Rectory garden 1891'. The shaft is
set in a rectangular base stone which is completely covered by a layer of
turf.
The church at South Hill is one of only three churches in Cornwall dedicated
to St Sampson, a sixth century Welsh saint who travelled across Cornwall and
went on to Brittany. In an early `Life' of the saint, reference is made to the
stone at South Hill: St Sampson came across some people performing pagan
rites, he convinced them of the error of their ways by performing a miracle
and the people converted to Christianity. The author mentioned that he had
been to the spot and touched a stone decorated with a cross which Sampson had
carved. It is probable that the author of the `Life of St Sampson' had visited
the inscribed stone at South Hill, and had fitted it into his story. The
details of this incident fit better with the topography around Golant, on
the River Fowey estuary on the south coast of Cornwall, where St Sampson
probably founded a monastery.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Early Christian memorial stones are inscribed free-standing stones
commemorating named individuals and dating to the early medieval period (c.AD
400-1100). The stones are erect, roughly dressed or undressed slabs, bearing
incised inscriptions, usually set in one or more vertical lines down one face
of the slab, although in four examples the text runs horizontally across the
slab. All except two recorded texts are in Latin and, depending on their date,
may be inscribed in a script of Romanised capitals or an insular form of lower
case lettering called miniscules, or a mixture of the two. Six stones also
have inscriptions in an Irish script called ogham. Most inscriptions are
simple, bearing a personal name and often stating a family relationship, such
as `filii' (son of), to another personal name. Fourteen stones contain
elements of the simple inscriptions within a longer, complex inscriptive
formula, often including the phrase `hic iacet' (here lies). Additional
decoration is found on very few stones and usually comprises a cross within a
circle. Early examples, prior to the eighth century AD, may bear an early
Christian symbol called a Chi Rho monogram, compounding the first two Greek
letters of the name `Christ'.
Early Christian memorial stones are largely restricted to areas which retained
Celtic traditions during the early medieval period, with at least 139 recorded
from Wales. In England, they are almost entirely confined to the south-west
peninsula; of the 56 recorded examples, 37 occur in Cornwall, 11 in Devon, a
group of 5 in Dorset, and single examples in Somerset, Hampshire and
Shropshire. As a very rare and diverse class of monument important for our
understanding of the social organisation and the development of literacy and
Christianity during the early medieval period, all surviving groundfast
examples of early Christian memorial stones are considered worthy of
protection.

The early Christian memorial stone at South Hill has survived well as a
complete and very rare example of its class. It is one of only four inscribed
memorial stones in south west England that bear the Chi Rho monogram and has
recieved mention in national and regional reviews on the nature of early
Christianity and on political develompents in western Britain in the early
post-Roman period. The inscription itself is of importance from a period
generally lacking in such historical references.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Olson, L, Early Monasteries in Cornwall, (1989)
Pearce, S M, The Kingdom of Dumnonia, (1978)
Other
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 10027,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 27/37; Pathfinder Series 1339
Source Date: 1988
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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