Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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An early Christian memorial stone 380m south east of Worthyvale Manor

A Scheduled Monument in Forrabury and Minster, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.6402 / 50°38'24"N

Longitude: -4.6755 / 4°40'31"W

OS Eastings: 210916.293807

OS Northings: 85689.498262

OS Grid: SX109856

Mapcode National: GBR N4.94T9

Mapcode Global: FRA 173C.SDJ

Entry Name: An early Christian memorial stone 380m south east of Worthyvale Manor

Scheduled Date: 22 March 1932

Last Amended: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018701

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31849

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Forrabury and Minster

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Forrabury

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone, known as King
Arthur's Tomb, situated on the west bank of the River Camel to the north of
The early Christian memorial stone survives as a granite shaft lying on the
ground with the inscription facing upwards. The memorial stone measures 2.91m
long by 0.67m wide and is 0.36m thick. The inscription, which is incised
deeply into the stone and is clearly visible, is in Latin, incised in an early
medieval insular form of script derived from Roman style capitals. The
inscription is incised in two lines and has been read as `LATINI IC IACIT
FILIUS MA RI' which translates as `the stone of Latinus here lies the son of
Ma' or `the body of Latinus lies here, son of Ma'. There is another
inscription on the north side of this stone incised in an early medieval
script of Irish origin called `ogham', which occurs on Christian monuments of
the fifth and sixth centuries AD. The ogham inscription, whose lettering is
represented entirely by short incised lines in varying multiples and at
various angles, has been read as `NI', it is very worn and incomplete.
The use of inscriptions in both Latin and ogham, and the formula employed in
the Latin inscription and the style of the lettering combine to suggest a
fifth/sixth century to eighth century date.
This memorial stone was first recorded in 1602 by the historian Carew as
bearing Arthur's name. It was again mentioned in the 18th century as having
been used as a footbridge at Worthyvale. It was removed from being a
footbridge around 1754 and placed in its present location as a garden feature.
The ogham inscription was first recorded in 1875.

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

The early Christian memorial stone 380m south east of Worthyvale Manor has
survived well with its inscription complete. It is one of only six memorial
stones in south west England to bear an inscription not only in Latin but also
in ogham script. 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)
Consulted July 1997, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.2240.1,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 08/18: Pathfinder Series 1325
Source Date: 1986

Source: Historic England

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