An early Christian memorial stone at Lancarffe


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016751

Date first listed: 22-Mar-1932

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Apr-1999


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

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Helland

National Grid Reference: SX 08269 68948


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 at Lancarffe has survived well despite a repaired fracture towards one end. It is a good example of an early medieval memorial stone, the inscription being clearly incised and complete. The inscription itself is of importance from a period generally lacking in such historical references, and justifies scheduling the stone even though it is not in its original position.


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


The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone, at Lancarffe which survives as a granite shaft 1.88m long by 0.23m wide, built horizontally into the wall of a summer house. The inscription is incised deeply into the stone and is clearly visible. It runs along the stone in two lines reading `DVNO ATI HIC IACIT FILI ME CAGNI', (`here lies the body of Duno(c)atus son of Me(s)cagnus'). Mescagnus is an early Irish name, and Dunocatus early Welsh or Cornish. The use of an early Irish name, the style of the lettering, and the form of the inscription dates the this stone to the fifth to eighth centuries AD. This memorial stone was discovered in a stream bed in 1912 by Mr Dunn of Lancarffe. In 1928 it was moved to Bodmin, but later returned to Lancarffe and incorporated into a new garden wall. Towards the western end of the stone there is a fracture right through the stone, the break cemented together.

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: 31852

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Okasha, E, Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain, (1993)
Consulted July 1998, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 4330,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SX 06/16; Pathfinder Series 1347 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing