Early Christian memorial stone and cross slab in St Hilary's churchyard


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018498

Date first listed: 24-Jul-1998


Ordnance survey map of Early Christian memorial stone and cross slab in St Hilary's churchyard
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1018498 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 18-Nov-2018 at 03:33:41.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: St. Hilary

National Grid Reference: SW 55041 31278


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 in St Hilary's churchyard survives well, despite having been reused as a foundation stone in the past. Its inscription is clear and legible. The inscription itself is of importance from a period generally lacking in such historical references. The discovery and re-erection of the stone in the churchyard in the 19th century reflects the continuity of use of St Hilary's churchyard as a burial place from the early medieval period to the present day. The present association with a cross slab is an unusual feature.


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


The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone and a cross slab by the southern entrance of the churchyard at St Hilary in west Cornwall. The early Christian memorial stone survives as an upright granite shaft measuring 1.9m high by 0.47m wide at the base tapering to 0.34m at the top and is 0.25m thick at the base tapering slightly to 0.22m at the top. The principal faces are orientated east-west. The west principal face bears an inscription incised in an early medieval form of script derived from Roman style capitals running down the shaft in two lines. The inscription has been read `N NOTI NOTI' which translates as `Notus son of Notus'. The inscription is clear and legible. There are some marks or letters above this inscription, which have been interpreted in various ways, as masons marks, as CONG, to read Congnoti, and as A W M. It is not clear whether the marks were for decoration or were part of the inscription. The form of the inscription and the use of a Latin name, suggest a sixth to eighth century date for this stone. The early Christian memorial stone was discovered in 1853 after the church of St Hilary had been destroyed by fire. It was found at the north west angle of the chancel 0.6m below the floor, and had probably been used as a foundation stone. By 1858 it had been moved to its present location in the churchyard. It is Listed Grade II. The cross slab survives as an upright granite slab measuring 1.27m high by 0.37m wide at the top tapering to 0.23m wide at the base and is 0.17m thick. Its principal faces are orientated east-west. The east face bears a Latin cross in low relief, the upper limbs having slightly expanded ends, and the lower limb extending down the length of the slab. The upper part of the west face is plain, the lower part is against a wall. This cross slab was probably the lid of a stone coffin or a lych stone. It is Listed Grade II. The gravel surface of the footpath between the memorial stone and the cross slab, the three gravestones to the east of the memorial stone, and the granite cattle grid or trim-tram to the south 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: 30446

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Okasha, E, Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain, (1993)
Consulted June 1997, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No.29383,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW 33/43/part 53; Pathfinder 1364 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing