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An early Christian memorial stone at Lancarffe

A Scheduled Monument in Helland, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.4889 / 50°29'20"N

Longitude: -4.7043 / 4°42'15"W

OS Eastings: 208268.826001

OS Northings: 68947.822001

OS Grid: SX082689

Mapcode National: GBR N3.LHG4

Mapcode Global: FRA 171R.T96

Entry Name: An early Christian memorial stone at Lancarffe

Scheduled Date: 22 March 1932

Last Amended: 16 April 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016751

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31852

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Helland

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Bodmin

Church of England Diocese: Truro

Details

The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone, at Lancarffe which
survives as a granite shaft 1.88m long by 0.23m wide, built horizontally into
the wall of a summer house. The inscription is incised deeply into the stone
and is clearly visible. It runs along the stone in two lines reading `DVNO ATI
HIC IACIT FILI ME CAGNI', (`here lies the body of Duno(c)atus son of
Me(s)cagnus'). Mescagnus is an early Irish name, and Dunocatus early Welsh or
Cornish. The use of an early Irish name, the style of the lettering, and the
form of the inscription dates the this stone to the fifth to eighth centuries
AD. This memorial stone was discovered in a stream bed in 1912 by Mr Dunn of
Lancarffe. In 1928 it was moved to Bodmin, but later returned to Lancarffe and
incorporated into a new garden wall.
Towards the western end of the stone there is a fracture right through the
stone, the break cemented together.

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 Lancarffe has survived well despite a
repaired fracture towards one end. It is a good example of an early medieval
memorial stone, the inscription being clearly incised and complete. The
inscription itself is of importance from a period generally lacking in such
historical references, and justifies scheduling the stone even though it is
not in its original position.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Okasha, E, Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain, (1993)
Other
Consulted July 1998, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 4330,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 06/16; Pathfinder Series 1347
Source Date: 1989
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:

Source: Historic England

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