An early Christian memorial stone and a wayside cross in Phillack churchyard, south east of the church
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SW 56574 38430
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
The early Christian memorial stone has survived well, with most of its inscription complete and legible. The inscription itself is of importance from a period generally lacking in such historical references. Its reuse in the building material of the church reflects the continuity of use of Phillack churchyard as a burial place from the eighth century to the present day. Also its reuse in the church, and its re-erection in the churchyard in the 19th century reflects the changing attitudes to religion and their impact on the local landscape. The wayside cross also survives well, its reuse and removal illustrates well the changing attitudes to religion and their impact on the local landscape since the medieval period.
The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone and a medieval wayside
cross situated to the south east of the church in Phillack churchyard on the
north coast of west Cornwall.
The early Christian memorial stone survives as an upright granite shaft 1.56m
high. It measures 0.53m wide at the base, tapering to 0.38m wide at the top,
and is 0.24m thick at the base widening to 0.39m at the top. The principal
faces of the memorial stone are orientated east-west. The inscription is very
worn and is incised down the west principal face. The inscription has been
read as `CLOTUALI MOBRATTI' which translates as `the stone of Clotualus, son
of Mobrattus'. The name Clotualus is of Celtic origin; the name Mobrattus is
of Irish origin. Simple pillar stones with a memorial on them date from
the fifth century to the 11th century; the Irish name suggests a fifth
to eighth century date, and the style of the script suggests an eighth century
date for this stone.
This early Christian memorial stone was found in 1856 when the church was
being rebuilt. It had been built into the foundations near the south eastern
corner of the chancel. By 1858 the stone had been moved into its present
location, outside the vestry.
The medieval wayside cross is located to the south of the early Christian
memorial stone. This cross survives as an upright granite shaft with a round
`wheel' head. The overall height of the cross is 1.43m. The principal faces
are orientated east-west. The head measures 0.42m wide and is 0.24m thick. The
west principal face bears a relief equal limbed cross, with splayed ends to
the limbs, the lower limb extending down onto the top of the shaft. The top of
the head has been straightened, truncating the top of the upper limb. The east
face is not visible as the cross is located close to the wall of the vestry
The historian Langdon in 1896 recorded that this wayside cross was reused as
a gatepost at the entrance to Bodriggy Farm, 0.75km south of Phillack church,
and that in the late 19th century the cross was reused as a doorpost at the
entrance to the schoolyard at Phillack, before being removed to the churchyard
at Phillack in 1910.
The metalled surface of the footpath to the north and west of the cross and
memorial stone, the area of concrete footpath to the south of the cross and
the drain between the cross and the memorial stone, where they fall witin the
monument's protective margin, are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath these features is included.
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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Langdon, A G, Old Cornish Crosses, (1896)
Okasha, E, Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain, (1993)
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.31815,
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.31822,
Title: 1" Ordnance Survey Map; Penzance; sheet 95 Source Date: 1860 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 33/43/part 53; Pathfinder 1364 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing