In previous posts I’ve reported on the medieval carved stones at St Cynfarch and St Cyngar’s church, Hope (Flintshire) :
- an early medieval cross within the church;
- two early medieval cross-fragments reused in the external south and north faces of the church;
- a later medieval grave-slab fragment in the external south wall;
I cycled there again recently and took half-decent pictures of two remaining medieval grave-slab fragments yet to be discussed on Archaeodeath. These were recently recorded by Moira and Brian Gittos (2019) but not illustrated. Having been missed by Colin Gresham’s survey of North Welsh medieval funerary monuments, I believe this post is the first time the stones have been photographed and discussed. They are both built into the south exterior church wall, just east of the buttress.
Regarding the first, Brian and Moira Gittos describe it as:
…incised [with a] bow and arrow and possibly the stem of a cross
Looking at the stone itself, I can see the arrow, and presume the ‘bow’ they describe is the curving line to the left of it, while the stem of the cross is to the right. However, there are 3 further features that demand explanation:
- the series of ridges on the far left, like vegetal lobes like those from the foot of the cross-slab Gresham 52 (Valle Crucis: Gresham 1968: 97-98);
- a curved incision below the arrow-point, perhaps associated with two faint parallel lines and a diagonal line. I do wonder if the curved incision is the hull of a boat, with a mast running up beside the arrowhead. The diagonal line might denote rigging. Might this be a later grafitto? Incidentally, there is a boat on an expanded-arm cross-slab from St Baglan, Llanfaglan, Caernarvonshire (Gresham 59: Gresham 1968: 102-103).
- the pair of parallel curved lines emitting from the stem on the bottom-right. These might be a supporting strut for a cross head, akin to that on Gresham 109 from Gwaynysgor (Gresham 1968: 130-131) (in which case the stone is upside down). However, if so, there are no signs of an equivalent on the other side of the shaft.
Having surveyed the contents of Gittos and Gittos’ two articles from 2012 and 2019 and Gresham’s book (1968), I’m unaware of any immediate parallel for this monument which might give us clues. However, Sword hilt-guards sometimes run into central cross-shafts, as at Gresham 65 from Valle Crucis (Gresham 1968: 107-108), Gresham 81 from Gwaunysgor (Gresham 1968: 118-119), but they do not resemble the feature on this stone.
The second Hope is described by Moira and Brian Gittos as:
two pairs of parallel incised lines and a damaged sunk-relief Lombardic inscription along the lower edge.
I’d like to venture that this is a cross-shaft and a sword, with the script running down the long-side of the shaft facing inwards (i.e. we have the base of the letters surviving best towards the centre of the slab). Parallels include the cross of Robert son of Robert de Bridleton from the Dominican Friary at Rhuddlan (Gresham 147, Gresham 1968: 156- 158).
So if you ever get a chance to visit Hope’s church, admire its architecture, but also look out for these reused fragments!
Gittos, B. and Gittos, M. 2012. Gresham revisited: a fresh look at the medieval monuments of north Wales, Archaeologia Cambrensis 161: 357-88
Gittos, B. and Gittos, M. 2019. Gresham revisited again: a further look at the medieval monuments of north Wales, Archaeologia Cambrensis 168: 197-227.
Gresham, C. 1968. Medieval Stone Carving in North Wales: Sepulchral Slabs and Effigies of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.