The Biscovey Stone, early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross shaft 1m south of St Mary's Church, Par


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016368

Date first listed: 28-Jul-1958

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of The Biscovey Stone, early Christian memorial stone and wayside cross shaft 1m south of St Mary's Church, Par
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: St. Blaise

National Grid Reference: SX 05833 53588

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 Biscovey Stone has survived well, with most of its inscription complete, though very worn. The inscription itself is of importance from a period generally lacking in such historical references. Its mention in records from the 18th century onwards, and its reuse as a gatepost in the 19th century as well as its later removal into the churchyard, reflect 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 wayside cross shaft known as the Biscovey Stone, in the churchyard at St Mary's Church, Par. The Biscovey Stone survives as an upright granite shaft measuring 2.38m in overall height. The rectangular section shaft measures 0.34m wide at the base, widening to 0.44m at the centre and tapering inwards again at the top. This shaft is 0.18m thick. The Biscovey Stone is oriented north-south. A central raised rib around the memorial stone divides it into two sections. The upper section on the south face has a narrow bead around its outer edges, and bears an incised inscription in three lines, which has been variously read as `ALRORON',`CILRORON', `CILORON'. This upper section of the shaft is also decorated with very worn interlace work, on both south and north faces. The lower section is plain. On the north face the upper section again has a narrow bead around its outer edges and also bears an incised inscription in two lines. This inscription has been read as `VLLICI' or `ULLICI', `FILIUS' or `FILI'. Both inscriptions are very worn and virtually indecipherable. The lower panel is plain apart from two holes, one 0.14m above ground level, the other 0.8m above the lower hole, filled with cement, and containing the remains of iron gate fittings. The east side bears a small decorated panel just below the central rib, and there is a small hole above the rib. The west side is plain except for the central rib. Originally the Biscovey Stone had a mortice in the top designed to recieve a cross head. The upper portion of the shaft, containing the mortice is missing; the mortice was mentioned by the historian, Langdon, in the late 19th century. The Biscovey Stone was first mentioned in 1700 as a cross by St Blazey alms house. In 1754 the antiquarian, Borlase, mentioned that in a small meadow close to where the stone was located many human bones had been found. It remained by the almshouse, close to the turnpike gate, at Biscovey, for many years, and by 1867 it was in use as a gatepost. Biscovey is approximately 1km to the south east of St Mary's Church. In 1896 the Biscovey Stone was moved into the churchyard at St Mary's, Par, to its present location. It is Listed Grade II. The gravel surface of the footpath passing to the east of the Biscovey Stone, the slate memorial slab to the southwest, the drain against the church wall to the north and the granite post to the west where they fall within the stone'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.


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

Legacy System number: 30424

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Langdon, A, Stone Crosses in Mid Cornwall, (1994)
Okasha, E, Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain, (1993)
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 20478,
Consulted July 1997, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.20484,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 05/15; St Austell and Fowey Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 05/15; St Austell and Fowey Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing