When I visited in the summer, I quickly became a fan of the small but distinctive collection of early and later medieval funerary monuments at Bolton le Sands church. Two date from the Viking Age (10th/early 11th centuries AD) and two (one of these surviving in two fragments) are from the later Middle Ages (possibly 12th/13th centuries AD). There are also some carved stone later medieval architectural features.

Brian James at the church contacted me for advise on the recording and photography of the stones as well as their interpretation. Previous posts have been:

In this short post, I want to write in celebrate of, following the recording by Aaron Watson of the early medieval stones, all stones – early and late – have been re-mounted for display within the church. I’ve also shared my earlier posts with Brian James of the church to inform their new display boards. Following a visit by students and staff from Nottingham University a few years ago, the church received an HLF grant to refurbish the church roof and make other arrangements. They have worked with Rebecca Grimshaw of Anthony Grimshaw Associates and the main contractors (Lloyd and Smith) to re-display the stones. With the help of the local blacksmith who made and positioned the metal clips, and following my advice to ensure that the re-worked and re-carved back-sides of the two early medieval stones are at least partly visible, the church has re-positioned them. Previously, they were leaned against the walls of the tower and against each other. Now they are smartly and securely displayed for visitors to view.

The Viking Age stone fragment, positioned with its 10th/11th-century ornamentation facing into the church, with the 12th-century re-carving lit when the west doors are open
The ‘hogback’ stone fragment – misleadingly positioned side-on so that the tegulae are on the right facing into the church, with the 12th-century re-carving lit when the west doors are open

There are five key points about these displays.

  1. First, the two early medieval stones have been effectively positioned so that the back-sides can at least be partially apprehended through pre-existing iron railings.
  2. Second, the fragmented larger later medieval stone has been re-assembled for display, giving a new and distinctive impression of it.
  3. All the stones are lit from internal powerful halogen lights. In addition, if the west door is opened, natural light will hit the stones;
  4. The stones are no longer loose and no longer in the way of potential damage from the opening and closing of the west door;
  5. The ‘hogback’ fragment  is displayed so that the tegulae are on the right, rather than the top. This might make it somewhat challenging for visitors to comprehend this was originally a recumbent grave cover.

This is vast improvement over their former situation and a secure and long-term solution that many other churches should consider adopting with their loose fragments of medieval funerary carved stones.

Well done Bolton le Sands! I hope their medieval stones will now be better appreciated by the local community and by visitors.

I haven’t yet been back to Bolton le Sands, so thanks to Brian James for permission to use his photographs of the newly re-displayed stones!

 

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