An early Christian memorial stone in Lewannick churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016365

Date first listed: 13-Jun-1973

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of An early Christian memorial stone in Lewannick churchyard
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Lewannick

National Grid Reference: SX 27591 80688


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 has survived well, with most of its inscription complete, though very worn. It is one of only six memorial stones in south west England to bear an inscription not only in Latin but also in ogham script. The inscription itself is of importance from a period generally lacking in such historical references. Its discovery in the churchyard and re-erection there in the 19th century reflects the continuity of use of Lewannick churchyard as a burial place from the early medieval period to the present day.


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


The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone in the churchyard at Lewannick. The memorial stone survives as an upright granite shaft measuring 1.31m in overall height. The rectangular section shaft measures 0.38m wide by 0.23m thick, the broader faces oriented to the north east and south west. The upper part of the south east face has been fractured, which has reduced the thickness of the top of the stone to 0.18m. This stone bears an incised inscription in short horizontal lines on its north west face. The inscription is in Latin, incised in an early medieval insular form of script derived from Roman style capitals, and has been read as `INCENVI MEMORIA' or `INGENVI MEMORIA' which translates as `the monument of Incenvus'. There is another inscription on the north corner of this stone incised in an early medieval script of Irish origin called `ogham', which occurs on Christian monuments of the fifth and sixth centuries AD. The ogham inscription, whose lettering is represented entirely by short incised lines in varying multiples and at various angles, has been read as `INGENAVI MEMOR', repeating the name in the Latin inscription. Both of these inscriptions are very worn and virtually indecipherable. The use of inscriptions in both Latin and ogham, and the formula employed in the Latin inscription and the style of the lettering, combine to suggest a fifth/sixth century to eighth century date for this memorial stone. This stone was found in 1892 by the local historian, Langdon, deeply buried on the south side of the churchyard at Lewannick. The stone has remained in the churchyard, and its present location is close to the south entrance to the churchyard. The grave with its granite headstone and kerbed surround to the south east of the memorial stone falls within the stone's protective margin and 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.

Legacy System number: 30421

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Okasha, E, Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain, (1993)
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.17590,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 28/38; Pathfinder Series 1326 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing