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Thursday, 20 June 2013

New information on the ‘Silian 3’ stone!

Professor David Austin, of the University of Wales TSD, Lampeter, chats to local people about the probable origins and evolution of the church site
On Friday 7 June news was received from Siân Iles, of the National Museum of Wales, to whom an enquiry had been submitted regarding the provenance of the cast and photograph of ‘Silian 3’. Both were noted by Professor Edwards in A Corpus of Early Medieval Inscribed Stones and Stone Sculpture in Wales.  Siân confirmed that the museum has the cast in its collection, and stated that it is likely to have been made by W. Clarke of Llandaff, prior to World War I. From 1894 the Cardiff Museum and Art Gallery (later the National Museum of Wales) undertook a programme of commissioning plaster casts of pre-Norman stones in Wales, in order to create a national reference collection. The programme was brought to an end by the outbreak of war in 1914.

A photograph of the ‘Silian 3’ cast is referred to as such in the National Museum’s catalogue. Also in the picture are the casts of two stones from Cynwyl Gaeo, which are known to have been made by W. Clarke in 1914. It can therefore be inferred that the ‘Silian 3’ cast probably also dates from that time, and ended up in the stream sometime afterwards. It seems that no one currently living in the village knew of its existence until now.

The ‘Silian 3’ stone is one of three medieval stones belonging to the church site. It will be permanently housed at St Sulien’s Church, whose parishioners intend to apply for funding to display ‘Silian 3’ and ‘Silian 2’, both of which are thought to date to the ninth-tenth century. ‘Silian 1’, whose inscription dates to the fifth-sixth century, is built into the church’s external south wall. There is considerable local and archaeological interest in the origins and evolution of the early church site at Silian. All three stones add to the narrative of the site, and local people now hope to disseminate this narrative using leaflets or an information plaque.

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