Early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross in Cardinham churchyard, 10m east of the church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014879

Date first listed: 30-Sep-1957

Date of most recent amendment: 05-Jan-1996


Ordnance survey map of Early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross in Cardinham churchyard, 10m east of the 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: Cardinham

National Grid Reference: SX1232968691


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 in Cardinham churchyard has survived reasonably well. It is a good example of its class. This stone has received mention in regional reviews on the nature of early Christianity. The inscription itself is of importance from a period generally lacking in such historical references. The mounting of a cross onto an earlier memorial stone represents an interesting and unusual adaptation.


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


The monument includes a medieval wayside cross mounted on an early Christian memorial stone situated within the churchyard at Cardinham on the southern edge of Bodmin Moor in south east Cornwall.

The wayside cross survives as a round or wheel head and upper section of shaft or `foot'. The cross head measures 0.86m high by 0.69m wide and is 0.23m thick. The principal faces are orientated east-west. Each principal face displays a relief equal limbed cross with slightly splayed ends to the limbs. There is a wide bead around the outer edge of the head on both faces. There are three rectangular projections on the head, one on each side and one on the top. At the neck are two rounded and slightly recessed supports for the head. Below these supports are two projections on either side of the neck. The rectangular shaft or `foot' measures 0.23m thick and is wider than the head. The historian Langdon in 1896 believed that this cross was used as a gravestone as there was only a short length of shaft or a `foot' surviving. The shaft is joined to the early Christian memorial stone by cement. This granite memorial stone measures 1.98m high by 0.41m wide at the base tapering to 0.32m at the top, and is 0.46m thick at the base tapering to 0.31m. The top 0.44m of the stone on the west face has been fractured. The memorial stone bears a Latin inscription incised in two parallel lines running down the shaft. The inscription is in an early medieval form of script derived from Roman style capitals and has been read as `Rancori fili Mesgi' which translates as `Rancorus son of Mesgus' The formula employed in the Latin inscription and the style of the lettering combine to suggest a late sixth century to early seventh century date for this memorial stone. This inscription is very worn and only a few letters are still visible, Langdon in 1906 only recorded `ORH'.

The cross head was built into the east wall of the chancel probably during the 15th century, and was removed in 1872 when the church was restored. The early Christian memorial stone was found leaning against the churchyard wall near the south east corner of the churchyard. In 1896 the memorial stone was moved into the churchyard and erected in its present position and the cross head was mounted on it. It was not until 1901 that the inscription was noted and recorded.

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: 28447

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Henderson, C, The Cornish Church Guide, (1928)
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Page, W, The Victoria History of the County of Cornwall: Volume I, (1906)
Pearce, S M, The Kingdom of Dumnonia, (1978)
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 2955.02,
Consulted 1995, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN 2955.04,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 06/16; Pathfinder Series 1347 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing