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Early Christian grave stones on Lundy
     

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 Early Christian grave stones on Lundy

   Lundy, Isle of Avalon         Lundy Island

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"The four inscribed stones alone make it (Lundy) archaeologically unique.'

 The Island of Lundy.

"Excavations at Beacon Hill on Lundy Island uncovered a cemetery and stone structures dating back to the Iron Age. Several stone-walled huts were associated with third and fourth century pottery, and one fragment belonged to a small red-slipped wheel-made bowl, categorized by Thomas as a minor unidentified ware of the early post-Roman period.FN138 The cemetery contained 30 cist-graves around an unidentified focus, with an enclosure probably dating to the late sixth century.FN139 Four inscribed stones were found associated with the graves: two date to the fifth or early sixth century, one to the late fifth or sixth, and one to the seventh. The seventh century memorial stone contained an inscribed cross, suggesting that by the seventh century the community using this cemetery was Christian." Snyder - Sub -Roman Britain

' We have in Devon a dozen Christian headstones which can be dated to the period between 400 and 650. These stones mark the graves of important people, none of whom can be identified for certain, but all were Christians.'  Hoskins

In " The Archaeology of Exmoor" I.V.Grinshell says "Most, perhaps all inscribed stones from the 5th to the 7th century are considered to have been put up in memory of a deceased notability. All are Christian."

'These stone allude to British Christian dead, were erected by British, were an aspect of continuous British Christianity."  Christianity in Roman Britain to 500 AD.

" The evidence of Professor Thomas' excavations in Tintagel churchyard (1990) which appear to reveal a group of graves of noblemen, probably Christian and dating from the 5th to 6th c.2 - 'unity and variety.' Similar groupings of memorial stones were found on Lundy and at the site of St. Ninians fifth century monastery, Candida Casa, Whithorn in South West Scotland.

 

Grave Stones on Lundy.

The old chapel on Lundy, isle of Avalon, has been dated to the 12th century. It was dedicated to St. (H)Elena or (H)Elain.

 

An inscription was noticed, in 1923, on a stone which had been disturbed 18 years earlier during the preparation for a grave inside the walls of the ruined chapel on Lundy.

The inscription reads "IGERN- IT.IGERN-"

 This stone, called the "Tigernus Stone, has been ascribed to circa 500A.D. 

 

In the Arthurian legends the name of Arthur's mother is variously given as;-YGERNA, YGERN, IGRAYNE, YGRAINE, IGRAINE, IGERNA, IGERN.

According to John of Glastonbury Arthur's mother, Ygerne, was descended from the nephew of Joseph of Arimathea, HELAINS

Helains - (H)Elain - (H)Elen

 

A second stone was found in 1962. It was inscribed with a cross within a circle, known as the "Chi-Ro", a symbol of early Christianity, and the letters

 ' T I M I . " 

Two more were discovered the following year. The first of these bore the Chi-Ro symbol and the letters "P O T I T ": this is usually described as "the stone of Potitus." 

In the "Confessions " of St. Patrick, generally acknowledged to have been genuinely written by the saint, he tells us;-

 " I, Patrick a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful, and most contemptible to many, had for father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest, of the settlement (vicus) of Bannavem Taburniae, he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive." 

Bannavem Taburniae near which Patrick lived is Barnstaple, opposite Lundy island.

 

St. Patrick's birth has been variously give as between 390A.D. and 418A.D.,with the earlier more likely. If Potitus had been 50 when Patrick was born "then we are left with a picture of a well established church from at least 313 A.D., if not considerably before."  centred on Lundy with it's cemetery.

 

Restitutus

The fourth inscribed stone found on Lundy also bears the symbol of a cross within a circle and the words 

" R E S T I " and " E U T A. " 

In 314 A.D., eight years after being proclaimed Emperor by the Roman Legions in York, Constantine convened the Council of Arles. 

Three British bishops were among those who attended, as described in the following passage:-

"Eborius Episcopus de Civitae Eboracensi Provincia Britannia,

Restitutus Episcopus de Civitae Londineniensi Provincia Suprascripta,

Adelphius Episcopus de Civitae Colonia Londiniensium,

Exinde Sacerdos Presbyter, Arminius Diaconus."

The surviving version of the list of Bishops attending the Church Council at Arles is definitely corrupt. 

A translation gives Eborius as Bishop of York and Restitutus as Bishop of London. The Bishopric of Adelphius is more problematical, the word " Londinensium " being a scribes error which has been taken to be Camulodunum ( Colchester ) or more often as Lindumensium (Lincoln). 

However in view of the corruption of the text and the similarity of the names Restitutus and Reste euta, and bearing in mind the previously mentioned alternative spelling Londeia for Lundy, the possibility exists that Adelphius was the Bishop of London and that Restitutus came from Lundy island - Londineniensi.

Even if the Restituta commemorated by the inscribed stone was not the Bishop mentioned above; a very prominent Christian called Restitutus was buried on Lundy during the early Christian era.

........................................

Sidonius, the ?th century Roman Poet , in his panegyrics of emperors extolled them as being Restitutor figures. Restitutor being translated as 'World-Restorer'  - Geoffrey Ashe in 'The Discovery of King Arthur' speculates on this term being applied to Arthur.

"Arthur, the man who actually was seen as a Restituror, might presumably come again in the same character and 'restore' a golden age of his own." - Geoffrey Ashe - Discovery of King Arthur p.153.

 

A Bishop from Lundy?

 

"The strongest evidence--literary, epigraphic, and archaeological--for Christian activity in sub-Roman Britain comes from Whithorn in southwestern Scotland. Claimed by Bede to be the site of St. Ninian's fifth-century monastery, Candida Casa, the area has yielded several Early Christian memorial stones. Peter Hill's excavations in the 1980s revealed at least two phases of Early Christian activity at Whithorn before it was taken by the Vikings (Hill 1997). Fifth- and sixth-century features of the site include small rectangular wattle buildings (one structure had lime-wash residue, giving credence to Bede's "Shining House" description of Ninian's monastery), a circular "oratory," a garden, remains of a mouldboard plough, broken "wine glasses," and yet more imported pottery. Hill sees good reason to believe that the sub-Roman settlement was indeed a monastery, with a surrounding Christian community large enough to perhaps warrant the provision of a bishop such as Ninian."   from Snyder - Sub Roman Britain.

 

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