Ancient Monuments

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Early Christian memorial stone and cross slab in St Hilary's churchyard

A Scheduled Monument in St. Hilary, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1309 / 50°7'51"N

Longitude: -5.4289 / 5°25'44"W

OS Eastings: 155041.131046

OS Northings: 31278.482721

OS Grid: SW550312

Mapcode National: GBR DXZB.G1Z

Mapcode Global: VH12T.VZ91

Entry Name: Early Christian memorial stone and cross slab in St Hilary's churchyard

Scheduled Date: 24 July 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018498

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30446

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: St. Hilary

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: St Hilary

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone and a cross slab by
the southern entrance of the churchyard at St Hilary in west Cornwall.
The early Christian memorial stone survives as an upright granite shaft
measuring 1.9m high by 0.47m wide at the base tapering to 0.34m at the top
and is 0.25m thick at the base tapering slightly to 0.22m at the top. The
principal faces are orientated east-west. The west principal face bears an
inscription incised in an early medieval form of script derived from Roman
style capitals running down the shaft in two lines. The inscription has been
read `N NOTI NOTI' which translates as `Notus son of Notus'. The inscription
is clear and legible. There are some marks or letters above this inscription,
which have been interpreted in various ways, as masons marks, as CONG, to read
Congnoti, and as A W M. It is not clear whether the marks were for decoration
or were part of the inscription. The form of the inscription and the use of a
Latin name, suggest a sixth to eighth century date for this stone.
The early Christian memorial stone was discovered in 1853 after the church
of St Hilary had been destroyed by fire. It was found at the north west angle
of the chancel 0.6m below the floor, and had probably been used as a
foundation stone. By 1858 it had been moved to its present location in the
churchyard. It is Listed Grade II.
The cross slab survives as an upright granite slab measuring 1.27m high by
0.37m wide at the top tapering to 0.23m wide at the base and is 0.17m thick.
Its principal faces are orientated east-west. The east face bears a Latin
cross in low relief, the upper limbs having slightly expanded ends, and the
lower limb extending down the length of the slab. The upper part of the west
face is plain, the lower part is against a wall. This cross slab was probably
the lid of a stone coffin or a lych stone. It is Listed Grade II.
The gravel surface of the footpath between the memorial stone and the cross
slab, the three gravestones to the east of the memorial stone, and the granite
cattle grid or trim-tram to the south are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath these features is included.

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 St Hilary's churchyard survives well,
despite having been reused as a foundation stone in the past. Its inscription
is clear and legible. The inscription itself is of importance from a period
generally lacking in such historical references. The discovery and re-erection
of the stone in the churchyard in the 19th century reflects the continuity of
use of St Hilary's churchyard as a burial place from the early medieval period
to the present day. The present association with a cross slab is an unusual

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Okasha, E, Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain, (1993)
Consulted June 1997, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.29383,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 33/43/part 53; Pathfinder 1364
Source Date: 1989

Source: Historic England

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