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The Biscovey Stone, early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross shaft 1m south of St Mary's Church, Par

A Scheduled Monument in St. Blaise, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.3501 / 50°21'0"N

Longitude: -4.7306 / 4°43'50"W

OS Eastings: 205832.691

OS Northings: 53588.192501

OS Grid: SX058535

Mapcode National: GBR N2.W8PK

Mapcode Global: FRA 08Z3.NTW

Entry Name: The Biscovey Stone, early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross shaft 1m south of St Mary's Church, Par

Scheduled Date: 28 July 1958

Last Amended: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016368

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30424

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Blaise

Built-Up Area: St Blazey

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Par

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross
shaft known as the Biscovey Stone, in the churchyard at St Mary's Church, Par.
The Biscovey Stone survives as an upright granite shaft measuring 2.38m in
overall height. The rectangular section shaft measures 0.34m wide at the base,
widening to 0.44m at the centre and tapering inwards again at the top.
This shaft is 0.18m thick. The Biscovey Stone is oriented north-south.
A central raised rib around the memorial stone divides it into two sections.
The upper section on the south face has a narrow bead around its outer edges,
and bears an incised inscription in three lines, which has been variously read
as `ALRORON',`CILRORON', `CILORON'. This upper section of the shaft is also
decorated with very worn interlace work, on both south and north faces.
The lower section is plain. On the north face the upper section again has a
narrow bead around its outer edges and also bears an incised inscription in
two lines. This inscription has been read as `VLLICI' or `ULLICI', `FILIUS' or
`FILI'. Both inscriptions are very worn and virtually indecipherable.
The lower panel is plain apart from two holes, one 0.14m above ground level,
the other 0.8m above the lower hole, filled with cement, and containing the
remains of iron gate fittings. The east side bears a small decorated panel
just below the central rib, and there is a small hole above the rib. The west
side is plain except for the central rib.
Originally the Biscovey Stone had a mortice in the top designed to recieve a
cross head. The upper portion of the shaft, containing the mortice is missing;
the mortice was mentioned by the historian, Langdon, in the late 19th century.
The Biscovey Stone was first mentioned in 1700 as a cross by St Blazey alms
house. In 1754 the antiquarian, Borlase, mentioned that in a small meadow
close to where the stone was located many human bones had been found.
It remained by the almshouse, close to the turnpike gate, at Biscovey, for
many years, and by 1867 it was in use as a gatepost. Biscovey is approximately
1km to the south east of St Mary's Church. In 1896 the Biscovey Stone was
moved into the churchyard at St Mary's, Par, to its present location. It is
Listed Grade II.
The gravel surface of the footpath passing to the east of the Biscovey Stone,
the slate memorial slab to the southwest, the drain against the church wall to
the north and the granite post to the west where they fall within the stone's
protective margin, are excluded from the scheduling although the ground
beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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 Biscovey Stone has survived well, with most of its inscription complete,
though very worn. The inscription itself is of importance from a period
generally lacking in such historical references. Its mention in records from
the 18th century onwards, and its reuse as a gatepost in the 19th century as
well as its later removal into the churchyard, reflect the changing attitudes
to religion and their impact on the local landscape, since the medieval
period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Okasha, E, Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain, (1993)
Other
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 20478,
Consulted July 1997, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.20484,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 05/15; St Austell and Fowey
Source Date: 1980
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 05/15; St Austell and Fowey
Source Date: 1980
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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