Welcome to the blog of the Gloucestershire cross-slab survey. Cross-slabs are a class of medieval stone grave markers which are decorated with a cross motif; they are most commonly found at churches and monastic sites, although some are held in museums. The survey aims to record all surviving medieval cross-slabs across Gloucestershire, compile a gazetteer database, and publish a corpus of Gloucestershire cross-slabs.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Holy Trinity Minchinhampton

A quick trip just down the road to Holy Trinity, Minchinhampton to record three cross-slabs.

Two late 12th to early 13th century tapered cross-slabs are set up in the nave and are fixed to the south wall. The upper slab is in two parts but cemented together. The bottom half is carved from different stone to the upper, and is probably Victorian. The cross-head is quite geometric and angular: an incised cross paté with ring in front, atop a shaft with an incised six-petalled flower halfway down. The base is carved with a simple two-stepped calvary with a cross inset.

Two small brass plaques are fixed to the front:

"This ancient grave stone formed part of the foundation of the old church at Minchinhampton on the removal of which in 1842 when the present edifice was erected it was found and presented to Mr John Chalk by the contractor for the new work.

In the reign of Henry the third when Minchinhampton church was taken down and rebuilt it is presumed this stone was taken from the then churchyard and used as building material"

Henry III ruled from 1207 to 1272, it will be interesting to check what 13th century fabric was taken down during the 1842 Thomas Foster renovation, the cross-slabs are certainly old enough to have been reused at this time.

Only the upper half survives of the lower slab, however the whole of the cross-head is present, despite some old damage on the right hand side. The cross-head is an incised expanded arm cross with a ring, and four pellets set within the internal panels.

A further cross-slab is lying on the path outside the east wall of the chancel; it is broken into two pieces, but seems safe enough for now. It had been cemented back together but broke, presumably when it was moved to its current position. The stone is a dark grey limestone and it is quite hard to make out the design, but it is actually a very nice bracelet cross with a cross-patée halfway down the shaft, the base ending in a rounded trefoil. It is similar to a cross-slab at St Kenelm Sapperton and is probably the same date - late 12th or early 13th century.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Cross-slab cross head style guide

One of the wonderful things about cross-slabs is the sheer variety of types of cross that adorn these stone slabs. It can however be more than a bit confusing as there are a huge range of individual designs, based on a number of simple forms, all with a bewildering set of names. 

To help in the recording of these slabs I've redrawn Peter Ryder's cross-head design figure from his 'The Medieval Cross Slab Grave Cover in County Durham', a fantastic book which is available from the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland. This figure gives a good introduction to the basic forms of cross, as well as showing how we describe the different aspects of each design through a combination of terms.

 If anyone would like a copy of the crib, then please email and I'll send a pdf through.