The South Hill inscribed stone, an early Christian memorial stone in South Hill churchyard, 50m west of St Sampson's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014016

Date first listed: 01-Jun-1923

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Dec-1995


Ordnance survey map of The South Hill inscribed stone, an early Christian memorial stone in South Hill churchyard, 50m west of St Sampson's Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: South Hill

National Grid Reference: SX 32890 72618


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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 South Hill has survived well as a complete and very rare example of its class. It is one of only four inscribed memorial stones in south west England that bear the Chi Rho monogram and has recieved mention in national and regional reviews on the nature of early Christianity and on political develompents in western Britain in the early post-Roman period. The inscription itself is of importance from a period generally lacking in such historical references.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone, known as the South Hill inscribed stone, situated in the churchyard at South Hill in south east Cornwall. The South Hill inscribed stone survives as an erect granite shaft set in a rectangular base stone. The overall height of the monument is 1.66m. The east principal face of the shaft measures 0.35m wide at the base tapering to 0.21m wide at the top. The west face measures 0.18m wide at the base widening slightly to 0.21m at the top. The shaft is 0.28m thick at the base tapering slightly to 0.26m at the top; the sides slope in from the wider east face towards the narrower west face. The top of the shaft has been fractured. At the upper end of the east principal face of the shaft is an incised motif called a `Chi Rho' monogram, visible as an upright cross formed from a capital letter `I' with a central curved cross-bar. The terminal of the upper limb curves over to form a letter `P', the cross limbs terminate in rounded ends. The top 0.3m of the east face of the shaft, where the monogram is incised, slants backwards slightly towards the west. The `Chi Rho' monogram is an early medieval shorthand symbol for Christ, formed by the first two Greek letters for Christ, and dated in south west England from the later fifth to seventh centuries AD. Below the `Chi Rho' monogram two transverse curved lines are incised one above the other, above a Latin inscription incised in two parallel lines running down the shaft. This inscription reads CVMREGN- FILI MAVC- which translates as `Cumregnus son of Maucus'. The use of the Chi Rho monogram, the formula of the Latin inscription and the style of the lettering combine to suggest a sixth century date for this memorial stone. The west face of the memorial stone is plain and undecorated except for a small brass plaque bearing an inscription `Romano British monument IV - VI century Cumregni Filimaugi Discovered in Rectory garden 1891'. The shaft is set in a rectangular base stone which is completely covered by a layer of turf. The church at South Hill is one of only three churches in Cornwall dedicated to St Sampson, a sixth century Welsh saint who travelled across Cornwall and went on to Brittany. In an early `Life' of the saint, reference is made to the stone at South Hill: St Sampson came across some people performing pagan rites, he convinced them of the error of their ways by performing a miracle and the people converted to Christianity. The author mentioned that he had been to the spot and touched a stone decorated with a cross which Sampson had carved. It is probable that the author of the `Life of St Sampson' had visited the inscribed stone at South Hill, and had fitted it into his story. The details of this incident fit better with the topography around Golant, on the River Fowey estuary on the south coast of Cornwall, where St Sampson probably founded a monastery.

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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 26251

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Olson, L, Early Monasteries in Cornwall, (1989)
Pearce, S M, The Kingdom of Dumnonia, (1978)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 10027,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 27/37; Pathfinder Series 1339 Source Date: 1988 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing