The Tristan Stone, early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross, 75m north of Polscoe


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:
SX 11228 52128

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 Tristan or Castle Dore stone has survived well, with most of its inscription complete and legible. The rare relief `T' shape, its inscription and the good survival of this stone are reflected in its frequent reference by early antiquaries and in its mention in national studies of this monument class. As a wayside cross, it remains as a marker on its original route despite being moved around the area, and despite the absence of the head, demonstrating well the major roles of wayside crosses and showing clearly the longevity of many routes still in use.


The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross known variously as the Longstone, Castle Dore Stone, Cunomorus Stone, or more commonly, the Tristan Stone, situated beside the A3082, the main route into Fowey, on the south coast of mid-Cornwall. The Tristan Stone survives as an upright granite shaft, 2.67m high set in a modern, two stepped circular base. The rectangular-section shaft tapers from base to top, the broader faces oriented to the north east and south west. The south west face bears an incised inscription which characterises the origin of the Tristan Stone as an early Christian memorial stone. The inscription is carved in two parallel lines running down the shaft. The inscription is in Latin, incised in an early medieval insular form of script derived from Roman style capitals, and has been read as `DRVSTANVS HIC IACIT CVNORMORI FILIVS' which translates as `Drustanus lies here, son of Cunomorus'. It has been suggested that Drustanus and Cunomorus are Tristan and King Mark from the Arthurian legend of Tristan and Iseult, and that Castle Dore was the site of Mark's castle. Research also suggests that the inscription dates from between the fifth or sixth centuries to the 11th century AD. On the upper part of the north east face is a relief `T' shape or Tau cross, an early Christian symbol, while inserted into the top of the memorial stone is a mortice, designed to receive a cross head. Early Christian memorials were free standing slabs, lacking a distinct or separate carved head. The insertion of a mortice for the head on this slab reflects a later adaption of the stone for a wayside cross. The inscription on this cross has attracted frequent reference by most of the antiquaries describing monuments in Cornwall from the mid-16th century onwards and due to its unusual combination of features, it receives mention in both national and regional studies of early Christian memorial stones. The stone is Listed Grade II*. The stone and cement footpath passing to the south east of the early Christian memorial stone is excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath 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.

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Books and journals
Chandler, J, John Lelands Itinerary: Travels in Tudor England, (1993)
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Okasha, E, Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain, (1993)
Okasha, E, Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain, (1993)
Pearce, S M, The Kingdom of Dumnonia, (1978)
Thomas, C, And Shall These Mute Stones Speak?, (1994)
Thomas, C, And Shall These Mute Stones Speak?, (1994)
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 05/15; St Austell and Fowey Source Date: 1980 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

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