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
Although not in its original position, the Goreus Stone is a rare survival,
being one of about 50 early Christian memorial stones known from south west
England, of which 11 are in Devon. The Yealmpton stone probably dates from
the 6th century AD on the basis of its lettering, which represents a
particularly early date.
The monument includes an early Christian memorial stone located 10m west of
the church tower in Yealmpton churchyard. It consists of a granite slab 1.83m
high, 0.49m by 0.27m wide at its base, tapering to 0.4m by 0.18m wide at a
point 0.3m from the rounded top. On its east face, the inscription GOREUS in
Roman capitals is inscribed vertically down the stone with the letters on
their sides, roughly cut into the surface. The west side has three oval holes
cut into it. These are about 8cm wide by 11cm high and about 10cm deep.
Previous reports suggest that the stone was used as a gatepost and was moved
to its present position in 1851. The stone is set upright in the churchyard
between a retaining wall and a table tomb, both of 19th century date.
The Goreus Stone is Listed Grade II*.
The retaining wall and tomb, where these fall within the stone's 2m protective
margin are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is
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.