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.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Standing on the shoulders of giants....

Cross-slabs have been studied for many years with the seminal works being 'A Manual for the Study of the Sepulchral Slabs and Crosses of the Middle Ages' by  E.L. Cutts in 1849, followed by 'Christian Monuments in England and Wales' by the Rev. C. Boutell in 1854 and K.E. Styan's 1902 work 'A Short History of Sepulchral Cross-slabs with reference to other emblems found thereon'. In Gloucestershire Ulric Daubeney noted cross-slabs ('sepulchral stones') in his 1921 'Ancient Cotswold Churches' but aside from short notes there has not been an overview of Gloucestershire cross-slabs since Butler and Jones in 1972 (Bris. & Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. 91 (1972) pp 150-8, 'The Cross-Slabs of Gloucestershire'.

Other researchers have however recorded cross-slabs across Gloucestershire, and as part of the project we will be collating their records wherever possible. This will allow us to study slabs which have sadly been lost, destroyed or have weathered or been damaged since their original record, as well as plotting later discoveries of slabs in churches. By charting what slabs were known -and when- and whether they still exist, we can see how many are being lost, and potentially highlight ways of protecting those that remain.

The antiquarian Frank Greenhill noted many Gloucestershire cross-slabs and other memorials in the early 20th century and Paul Cockerham has kindly provided copies of Greenhill's parish lists. These were written longhand, arranged alphabetically by parish,and contain notes (but no drawings) of cross-slabs, many of which now appear to be lost. The project has transcribed Greenhill's notes into a Word document, and the entries will be added to the project database where individual slabs will be cross-referenced against surviving slabs.

Greenhill's notes for Ampney St Mary and St Peter, Alstone, Alvestone, Almondsbury and Avening

Ampney St Mary

I               Upper part of a coffin lid bearing a cross fleury within a nimbus 13th cent. In two pieces, built in as side slabs of blocked E window in S Porch.

II             A rude cross botounee in nimbus, all but part of head effaced, 13th cent. Now built in as doorstep of S door of N.[ave]

Ampney St Peter

I               Part of a slab with head of a cross pommée, 13th cent. Built into lintel of lower W window of tower

II             Part of a head of a cross with nimbus smaller than the head, ?12th cent.  Built into lintel of upper W window of tower

III            Part of a cross, ?13th cent. Built in as lintel  [??] 3.W. window of C.[hancel]

Note in margin 'I + II sh[oul]d be reversed'


I               Head of a Latin cross, date uncertain. Built in as lintel to squint from nave to C.[hancel] on N side.


I               Thomas Smith, Yeoman, 1639, marg. inscr. in capitals only. Centre inscr added for Mary, wife of Thomas Smith, 1722, [????] bo. On floor of nave of old (and now desecrated) church


I               A raised cross with Lombardic marg. inscr. on chamfered edge of slab. Very worn, ?13th or 14th cent. S. Tr[ansept]

II             Base of late cross and frag of marg. inscr. in B.L. ?16th cent. Loose in N. Tr[ansept] partly covered


I               A shield, on coffin lid with chamfered edge, ?13th or 14th cent. S [??]

II             Curious cross; long stem , stepped base; ?13th or 14th cent. Mur. N. Tr[ansept]

III            Cross with hollow expanded arms in ring nimbus beyond which foliated terminations of arms project; knot high up on short stem foliated at foot; above it another (apparently similar) cross but badly weathered  and head largely hidden; ?13th or early 14th cent. Coffin lid now built in as sill of window in N. A. [isle]

IV            Very curious cross; beneath it, ?head of an animal *(?rabbit); coffin lid with each of top corners cut away in a concave curve; plain border; date uncertain. Mur. N. Tr[ansept]

*? a later "doodle"

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