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Thursday, 30 May 2013

Exciting rediscovery of lost medieval carved stone!

Whilst enjoying a bank holiday stroll, Royal Commission staff member Nikki Vousden and Dr Roderick Bale (archaeologist at University of Wales TSD Lampeter) came across a long-lost medieval inscribed stone in a stream in Silian!

Nikki and the rediscovered stone at the find spot
The find spot is just south-west of St Sulien’s Church, Silian (NPRN 402554), home to two further medieval inscribed stones. The church site, thought to have been of high-status, has been in use for at least 1500 years. Although the current church building dates from 1873, it is thought to stand on medieval foundations and has an early-fifth/sixth-century inscribed stone built into its south wall.

The lost stone was first noted by Nash-Williams in The Early Christian Monuments of Wales; a cast of its inscribed face was made for the National Museum of Wales. It was tentatively ascribed to Silian because of the label on a photograph, also at the National Museum of Wales. The stone is referred to as ‘Silian 3’ in Nancy Edwards’ Corpus of Early Medieval Inscribed Stones and Stone Sculpture in Wales, Volume II, and its decoration is thought to be ninth/tenth century in date

The ‘Silian 3’ stone
The stone measures 70cm x 38cm and decoration is visible on around a third of its face. The pattern includes a linear Latin cross with a lozenge shaped ring at its upper end. There are only two other definite examples of crosses in lozenge shaped rings in Wales: ‘Llandanwg 5’ from St Tanwg’s Church, Llandanwg (NPRN 439010, ‘Llanllawer 3’ from St David’s Church, Llanllawer (NPRN 308778), and ‘Llandecwyn 1’, from St Tecwyn’s Church, Llandecwyn (NPRN 43903).

How the Silian 3 stone ended up in the steam is a mystery, especially as someone obviously once knew of its significance and took a cast. We are currently awaiting information as to the provenance of the cast and associated photograph, and will provide an update when this becomes available. Amazingly, the stone lay hidden in the stream until one day the water on its wet surface helped highlight the incised pattern and it was spotted!

Details of all four churches and their associated stones can be found on the Royal Commissions’s searchable online database, Coflein. The stone is now being kept in St Sulien’s Church, Silian. If you would like to see it in context, Nikki will be at the church on Friday 7 June from 10am until 2pm. All welcome.

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Anonymous said...

What does the inscription say? And how? Are they ogham or runes?

Tylergilbert said...

Please explain. The stone was found and a cast made but it remained in situ ?

CBHC - RCAHMW said...

Hi there! This is Nikki Vousden, who discovered the stone. How long the stone had been in the stream before its rediscovery this year is not known. A cast was made, probably as part of a pre-First World War programme of cast-making. It is unlikely to have been made while the stone was in the stream. See our blog, ‘New Information on the ‘Silian 3’ Stone’ for details.

CBHC - RCAHMW said...

Hi! This is Nikki Vousden, who discovered the stone. The carving is thought to be a pattern rather than an inscription. The horizontal and diagonal lines are referred to as frets. Although the cross and lozenge pattern appears on three other known examples in Wales, there is no other known example of the pattern as a whole. See our blog, ‘Newly Discovered Medieval Silian 3 Stone on Display’ for details.

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