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Early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross in Cardinham churchyard, 10m east of the church

A Scheduled Monument in Cardinham, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.4879 / 50°29'16"N

Longitude: -4.647 / 4°38'49"W

OS Eastings: 212329.4

OS Northings: 68690.86

OS Grid: SX123686

Mapcode National: GBR N6.LL5Q

Mapcode Global: FRA 174R.ZBY

Entry Name: Early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross in Cardinham churchyard, 10m east of the church

Scheduled Date: 30 September 1957

Last Amended: 5 January 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014879

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28447

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Cardinham

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Cardynham

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross mounted on an early Christian
memorial stone situated within the churchyard at Cardinham on the southern
edge of Bodmin Moor in south east Cornwall.

The wayside cross survives as a round or wheel head and upper section of shaft
or `foot'. The cross head measures 0.86m high by 0.69m wide and is 0.23m
thick. The principal faces are orientated east-west. Each principal face
displays a relief equal limbed cross with slightly splayed ends to the limbs.
There is a wide bead around the outer edge of the head on both faces. There
are three rectangular projections on the head, one on each side and one on the
top. At the neck are two rounded and slightly recessed supports for the head.
Below these supports are two projections on either side of the neck. The
rectangular shaft or `foot' measures 0.23m thick and is wider than the head.
The historian Langdon in 1896 believed that this cross was used as a
gravestone as there was only a short length of shaft or a `foot' surviving.
The shaft is joined to the early Christian memorial stone by cement. This
granite memorial stone measures 1.98m high by 0.41m wide at the base tapering
to 0.32m at the top, and is 0.46m thick at the base tapering to 0.31m. The top
0.44m of the stone on the west face has been fractured. The memorial stone
bears a Latin inscription incised in two parallel lines running down the
shaft. The inscription is in an early medieval form of script derived from
Roman style capitals and has been read as `Rancori fili Mesgi' which
translates as `Rancorus son of Mesgus' The formula employed in the Latin
inscription and the style of the lettering combine to suggest a late sixth
century to early seventh century date for this memorial stone. This
inscription is very worn and only a few letters are still visible, Langdon in
1906 only recorded `ORH'.

The cross head was built into the east wall of the chancel probably during the
15th century, and was removed in 1872 when the church was restored. The early
Christian memorial stone was found leaning against the churchyard wall near
the south east corner of the churchyard. In 1896 the memorial stone was moved
into the churchyard and erected in its present position and the cross head was
mounted on it. It was not until 1901 that the inscription was noted and

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

The early Christian memorial stone in Cardinham churchyard has survived
reasonably well. It is a good example of its class. This stone has received
mention in regional reviews on the nature of early Christianity. The
inscription itself is of importance from a period generally lacking in such
historical references. The mounting of a cross onto an earlier memorial stone
represents an interesting and unusual adaptation.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Henderson, C, The Cornish Church Guide, (1928)
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Cornwall: Volume I, (1906)
Pearce, S M, The Kingdom of Dumnonia, (1978)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 2955.02,
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 2955.04,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 06/16; Pathfinder Series 1347
Source Date: 1989

Source: Historic England

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