The Men Scryfa, an early Christian memorial stone


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018573

Date first listed: 30-Nov-1926

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Jan-1999


Ordnance survey map of The Men Scryfa, an early Christian memorial stone
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. 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 - 1018573 .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-Jan-2019 at 09:18:51.


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

District: Cornwall (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Madron

National Grid Reference: SW 42693 35299


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 Men Scryfa has survived well, and is a good example of an early medieval memorial stone. It is believed to be in its original position though it has been thrown down and re-erected in the past. The inscription is clearly incised and complete. The inscription itself is of importance from a period generally lacking in such historical references.


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


The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone, known as Men Scryfa, situated on the northern side of the west Penwith uplands. The Men Scrytha or `written stone', which is Listed Grade II, survives as an upright granite shaft 1.73m high, with an incised inscription on the north principal face. The stone measures 0.46m wide at the base widening to 0.5m at the centre tapering to 0.26m at the top and is 0.3m thick. The inscription is incised deeply into the stone and is clearly visible. The inscription is incised in two lines running down the stone and has been read as `RIALOBRANI CVNOVALI'. About 1.09m of the stone is buried including more letters of the inscription which read as `FILI'. This translates as `the stone of Rialobranus, son of Cunovalus'. Also above the second line of the inscription two crosses are incised. From the style of the lettering and the form of the inscription it is considered that this memorial stone dates from the sixth to eighth centuries AD. The Men Scryfa was recorded several times between 1700 to 1824 as being recumbant. In 1825 it was re-erected, though in 1849 the stone was thrown down as the landowner searched for treasure around its base. Around 1862 the stone was re-erected. Measurements taken when the stone was lying down suggest that 1.09m is now buried. It has been suggested that this memorial stone may be a reused standing stone as the early Christians often took over previously venerated stones and marked them with crosses.

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: 31831

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Okasha, E, Corpus of Early Christian Inscribed Stones of South-west Britain, (1993)
Thomas, C, And Shall These Mute Stones Speak?, (1994)
Consulted July 1996, Cornwall SMR entry for PRN No. 30678,
Title: 1:25000 Ordnance Survey Map; SW33/43; Pathfinder Series 1364 Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing