Three early Christian memorial stones in the garden of Tavistock Vicarage, 70m south west of the Parish Church.
Reasons for Designation
Early Christian memorial stones are inscribed freestanding 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. The texts are usually in Latin and very rarely 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. Early Christian memorial stones are largely restricted to areas, which retained Celtic traditions during the early medieval period, in England, they are almost entirely confined to the South West. They represent 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.
The group of three stones in the garden of the Vicarage in Tavistock is unusual. The ogham script stone is especially rare and in all cases the writing is clearly defined. Although not in their original locations, they have clearly been assembled together as a collection held in high regard and this has undoubtedly helped to preserve them. Two of the stones have associations with Irish families, which is clearly very important in the evidence it provides for Anglo-Irish relationships at an early period.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 27 October 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument, which falls into three areas, includes three early Christian memorial stones situated in the garden to the south of the Vicarage in Tavistock, immediately south west of the Parish Church. The monument survives as three earthfast standing stones with carved inscriptions all dating to between the 5th and 6th centuries AD. The northernmost stone stands to a height of 2m, is made from granite and bears the Latin inscription ‘NEPRANI FILI CONBEVI’. It was found in the pavement in nearby West Street, Tavistock in 1780. The easternmost stone, also granite, bears the Latin inscription ‘SABINI FILI MACCODECHETI’, it has a small niche on one face and is 1.8m high. The name seems to have an Irish connection. It was found in a blacksmith’s shop at Buckland Monachorum, being used as a support, in 1804. The westernmost stone is the earliest of the three. It bears the Latin inscription ‘DOBUNNI FABRI FILII ENABARRI’ and an ogham inscription ‘on arris ENABARR’, and also the name appears to have an Irish link. This stone was found in use as a gatepost beside a road on Roborough Down in 1804 and seems to have been demonstrating the pagan custom of interment by the roadside.