Ancient Monuments

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The Men Scryfa, an early Christian memorial stone

A Scheduled Monument in Madron, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1618 / 50°9'42"N

Longitude: -5.6041 / 5°36'14"W

OS Eastings: 142693.035822

OS Northings: 35298.744

OS Grid: SW426352

Mapcode National: GBR DXJ8.5TC

Mapcode Global: VH058.T66B

Entry Name: The Men Scryfa, an early Christian memorial stone

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1926

Last Amended: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018573

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31831

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Madron

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Madron

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone, known as Men Scryfa,
situated on the northern side of the west Penwith uplands. The Men Scrytha or
`written stone', which is Listed Grade II, survives as an upright granite
shaft 1.73m high, with an incised inscription on the north principal face. The
stone measures 0.46m wide at the base widening to 0.5m at the centre tapering
to 0.26m at the top and is 0.3m thick. The inscription is incised deeply into
the stone and is clearly visible. The inscription is incised in two lines
running down the stone and has been read as `RIALOBRANI CVNOVALI'.
About 1.09m of the stone is buried including more letters of the inscription
which read as `FILI'. This translates as `the stone of Rialobranus, son of
Cunovalus'. Also above the second line of the inscription two crosses are
incised. From the style of the lettering and the form of the inscription it is
considered that this memorial stone dates from the sixth to eighth centuries
The Men Scryfa was recorded several times between 1700 to 1824 as being
recumbant. In 1825 it was re-erected, though in 1849 the stone was thrown down
as the landowner searched for treasure around its base. Around 1862 the stone
was re-erected. Measurements taken when the stone was lying down suggest that
1.09m is now buried. It has been suggested that this memorial stone may be a
reused standing stone as the early Christians often took over previously
venerated stones and marked them with crosses.

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 Men Scryfa has survived well, and is a good example of an early medieval
memorial stone. It is believed to be in its original position though it has
been thrown down and re-erected in the past. The inscription is clearly
incised and complete. The inscription itself is of importance from a period
generally lacking in such historical references.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Okasha, E, Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain, (1993)
Thomas, C, And Shall These Mute Stones Speak?, (1994)
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 30678,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW33/43; Pathfinder Series 1364
Source Date: 1989

Source: Historic England

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