Skip to comments.The 'Grave Slab Code' Baffles Experts
Posted on 04/12/2007 3:08:53 PM PDT by blam
The 'grave slab code' baffles experts
Apr 12 2007
By Tony Henderson Environment Editor, The Journal
What could be a 900-year-old code is baffling archaeologist Peter Ryder.
Over the last 30 years Northumberland-based Peter has recorded 700 ancient grave slab covers in the county, plus another 500 each in County Durham and Cumbria.
But the carvings found on one 12th-Century slab, which had been recycled and used 300 years later in a church tower, have set Peter a puzzle.
Three 12th-Century grave slabs were incorporated into the tower of St Michael and All Angels Church in Newburn, Newcastle.
They have been discovered during repair work on the tower of the Grade I-listed church, which was hit a year ago by fire. One of the slabs has carvings of an elaborate cross and the symbol for a woman - a pair of shears.
But it also has two rosettes - one with eight petals and the other with seven.
"The rosettes must mean something. They are telling us something but we haven't cracked what looks like a lost medieval code," said Peter.
Vicar of Newburn, the Rev John Sinclair, said: "The rosettes could represent the woman's children, aged seven and eight, but we don't really know."
Another twist is that a similar rosette on a grave slab of the same age is at Oving-ham, Northumberland. "It is exactly the same design and must be by the same man," said Peter. Grave slabs were used from Anglo-Saxon times but were at their most frequent in the 12th and 13th Centuries.
Laid horizontally on a grave, they were inscribed not with names but symbols relating to the identity of the individual.
The most common is that of a sword for a man, chalice for a priest, crook for a shepherd and also a ploughshare.
Top spots for grave slabs are the 50 found at the two churches in Bywell in Northum-berland and more than 30 from Corbridge.
Later builders had no quibbles about recycling the slabs, and at St Brandon's Church in Brancepeth, County Durham, during restoration work following a major fire, more than 100 were found to have been reused.
It is hoped that the Newburn church will be reopened for Christmas
Go here to see a picture of the church.
Exactly what I said. The "code" is simple. The lady buried was a gardener who enjoyed her rose bushes.
So, you’re saying it’s the bushes fault?
This is a Saxon grave-lid that was discovered in the chancel of the church during rebuilding in 1820. It has come to be known as the Wirksworth Stone. Beneath it was the well-preserved skeleton of a tall man, believed to be Betti, a monk who came to Wirksworth in the year 653, and was the founder and first priest of this church. (March 2001)
But it also has two rosettes - one with eight petals and the other with seven."
That's easy... "Cross me and I will cut off your rosettes".
He has a nifty beard.
A Man Named Betti....hmmmm.
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