Ancient Monuments

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The Tristan Stone, early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross, 75m north of Polscoe

A Scheduled Monument in Fowey, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.3388 / 50°20'19"N

Longitude: -4.6541 / 4°39'14"W

OS Eastings: 211228.375

OS Northings: 52127.512

OS Grid: SX112521

Mapcode National: GBR N5.X4B3

Mapcode Global: FRA 1844.NMS

Entry Name: The Tristan Stone, early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross, 75m north of Polscoe

Scheduled Date: 13 December 1929

Last Amended: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016287

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30401

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Fowey

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Fowey

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross
known variously as the Longstone, Castle Dore Stone, Cunomorus Stone, or more
commonly, the Tristan Stone, situated beside the A3082, the main route into
Fowey, on the south coast of mid-Cornwall.
The Tristan Stone survives as an upright granite shaft, 2.67m high set in a
modern, two stepped circular base. The rectangular-section shaft tapers from
base to top, the broader faces oriented to the north east and south west. The
south west face bears an incised inscription which characterises the origin of
the Tristan Stone as an early Christian memorial stone. The inscription is
carved in two parallel lines running down the shaft. The inscription is in
Latin, incised in an early medieval insular form of script derived from Roman
style capitals, and has been read as `DRVSTANVS HIC IACIT CVNORMORI FILIVS'
which translates as `Drustanus lies here, son of Cunomorus'. It has been
suggested that Drustanus and Cunomorus are Tristan and King Mark from the
Arthurian legend of Tristan and Iseult, and that Castle Dore was the site of
Mark's castle. Research also suggests that the inscription dates from between
the fifth or sixth centuries to the 11th century AD. On the upper part of the
north east face is a relief `T' shape or Tau cross, an early Christian symbol,
while inserted into the top of the memorial stone is a mortice, designed to
receive a cross head. Early Christian memorials were free standing slabs,
lacking a distinct or separate carved head. The insertion of a mortice for the
head on this slab reflects a later adaption of the stone for a wayside cross.
The inscription on this cross has attracted frequent reference by most
of the antiquaries describing monuments in Cornwall from the mid-16th century
onwards and due to its unusual combination of features, it receives mention in
both national and regional studies of early Christian memorial stones.
The stone is Listed Grade II*.
The stone and cement footpath passing to the south east of the early Christian
memorial stone is excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath is

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 Tristan or Castle Dore stone has survived well, with most of its
inscription complete and legible. The rare relief `T' shape, its inscription
and the good survival of this stone are reflected in its frequent reference by
early antiquaries and in its mention in national studies of this monument
class. As a wayside cross, it remains as a marker on its original route
despite being moved around the area, and despite the absence of the head,
demonstrating well the major roles of wayside crosses and showing clearly the
longevity of many routes still in use.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Chandler, J, John Lelands Itinerary: Travels in Tudor England, (1993)
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Okasha, E, Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain, (1993)
Okasha, E, Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain, (1993)
Pearce, S M, The Kingdom of Dumnonia, (1978)
Thomas, C, And Shall These Mute Stones Speak?, (1994)
Thomas, C, And Shall These Mute Stones Speak?, (1994)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 05/15; St Austell and Fowey
Source Date: 1980

Source: Historic England

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