Maison Dieu: guidebook

1958 (3rd impress. with amendments 1967)

The hospital of Maison Dieu was built in the 13th century at Ospringe in Kent and stood on the line of the main road from Dover to London. The earliest records date back to the reign of Henry III. The building was placed in State guardianship in 1947.

S.E. Rigold wrote the official guidebook (1958) consisting of a history and a description. There are a number of black and white images. G.C. Dunning added a section on the museum; there is a plan showing the layout of the display cases. Dunning includes a review of Roman finds in the area of Ospringe. He also includes a note on the Ospringe finds now in the British Museum.

Board Game at Sutton Hoo

Reconstructed ship burial at National Trust Sutton Hoo © David Gill

The reconstructed ship burial in the exhibition centre at National Trust Sutton Hoo includes the board game that was placed alongside the body. The original pieces are now in the British Museum.

Eddie Duggan writes:

It looks like hnefatafl – but all the bits are the same colour! 
The pieces are on the lines rather than in the spaces (alea evangelii may have been played on the lines, but alea evangelii was also probably intended as a symbolic use of the board [cf Wink Martindale’s “Deck of Cards”] rather than as a playable board game that was played for fun).  
If it is hnefatafl, pieces would play on the squares and there would be 24 attacking pieces and 12 defenders (together with defending a king); the defending pieces’ starting position is in a  symmetrical arrangement around the king while the attacking forces are grouped in sixes on each of the four sides. The aim is to get the king to safety, although which squares constitute safety is a matter of debate due to Linnaeus (the botanist) failing to make accurate notes during his tour of Lappland (Lachesis lapponica).

Lincluden Collegiate Church: Princess Margaret

Lincluden, tomb of Princess Margaret © David Gill

Lincluden Collegiate Church lies on the northern side of Dumfries and is in the care of Historic Scotland (HES). The tomb of princess Margaret (b. before 1373; d. 1450/51) [ODNB], daughter of king Robert III (d. 1406) [ODNB] and widow of Archibald, 4th Earl of Douglas (c. 1369-1424) [ODNB], is located in the choir of the church. Her brother was king James I of Scotland (1394-1437) [ODNB].

Whithorn: The Latinus Stone

The Latinus Stone, Whithorn © David Gill

The Latinus stone was discovered in 1891 during the clearances of the site. It appears to have been reused in the later medieval church. It was probably part of an early Christian cemetery.

The worn inscription reads (based on C.A. Ralegh Radford’s transliteration and translation):


We praise you, the Lord! Latinus, aged 35, and his daughter, aged 4. The grandson Barravados set up the monument here.

Historic Scotland supplies an alternative translation:
We praise you, the Lord! Latinus, descendant of Barravados, aged 35, and his daughter, aged 4, made a sign here.

Ralegh Radford dated the stone to the mid 5th century. He observed the allusion to Psalm 146, part of the liturgy used at funerals.

The stone is displayed in the Museum and curated by Historic Scotland (HES). It is one of the oldest pieces of evidence for Christianity in Scotland.


Whithorn: Bishops’ Graves

Whithorn © David Gill

A Premonstratensian community was established at Whithorn c. 1175. A cathedral was constructed at the site. Excavations during the late 1950s and 1960s discovered a group of graves near to the High Altar of the cathedral, and located within the vaults at the east end. It was presumed that these contained the remains of the bishops, and one of the graves contained the Whithorn Crozier.

Whithorn © David Gill
Whithorn © David Gill

The Brough Stone

The Brough Stone, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge © David Gill

The ‘Brough Stone’ (RIB 758) was found in 1879 during the restoration of the south porch of St Michael’s parish church at Brough under Stainmore, Cumbria (formerly Westmorland). It was acquired through subscription by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge in 1884 (inv. GR.1.1884).

The Roman fort at Verterae lies on the road over the Pennines linking the legionary base at York with the town at Luguvalium (Carlisle).

The Brough stone is the tombstone of Hermes of Commagene (Syria), aged 16: the text is in Greek, although at first it was thought to be ‘runic’ (and dated to the 6th century). The inscription is dated to the 3rd century.

The church lies to the south-east of the Roman fort. Subsequent excavations have shown the civilian cemetery to lie in this area.

The Roman fort at Brough, Cumbria © David Gill
  • Further information and bibliography from Historic England
  • English Heritage
  • Fitzwilliam Museum: Object in Focus
  • Stephens, G. 1884. Handbook of the Old-Northern Runic Monuments. London, Edinburgh, Copenhagen. Pp. 116-17. [Digital]
  • Clark, E.C. 1886. The Brough Stone. Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, Transactions of 1st Ser. 8: 205-219. [ADS]
  • Anon. 1886. The Brough Inscription. From the Athenaeum of Nov. 22, 1884. The Brough Stone. Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, Transactions of 1st Ser. 8: 171-73. [ADS]
  • Collingwood, R.G. 1931.Objects from Brough-under-Stainmore in the Craven Museum, Skipton. Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society, NS, Vol 31: 81-86. [ADS]
  • Birley, E. 1958.The Roman fort at Brough-under-Stainmore. Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society NS, Vol 58: 31-56.
  • Jones, M.J. et al. 1977.Archaeological work at Brough-under-Stainmore 1971-77: I. The Roman Discoveries, Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society NS, Vol 77: 17-45. [ADS]

Rievaulx Abbey: Galilee Porch

Rievaulx Abbey © David Gill

The Galilee Porch is situated at the north end of the nave of the abbey church at Rievaulx. This probably dates to the 12th century.

Galilee Porch, Rievaulx Abbey © David Gill

The porch contains the graves of lay individuals including Isabel de Roos (d. 1264) and Jordan (Hic iacet Jordanus).

Galilee Porch, Rievaulx Abbey © David Gill

Cairn Holy: restrictions on cars

Cairn Holy © David Gill

The Neolithic chambered tombs at Cairn Holy overlook Wigtown Bay. There is a small parking area at the end of the road, and discouragement from proceeding any further up the (rough) lane.

The cairns were excavated in 1949.

Note the chambered tomb in the background.

Rievaulx Abbey: Abbot William’s Shrine

Rievaulx Abbey © David Gill

William was the first abbot of Rievaulx (1132-45). The Cistercian abbey was founded in 1132: the first foundation in England was Waverley Abbey in 1128.

William came from Yorkshire and was a member of the monastic community at Clairvaux where he served as secretary to Bernard, its abbot. He was the founding abbot at Rievaulx and was responsible for its early buildings in the west range.

Rievaulx Abbey © David Gill

Rievaulx Abbey © David Gill

After his death in 1145, his remains were placed in a shrine at the entrance to the late 12th century chapter house on the south side of the cloister. The shrine itself dates to the mid-13th century. William’s casket would have been placed in the upper part of the shrine, and there was a space below. The grave was marked with two inscriptions, SCS WILLMUS Abbas (‘St William the Abbot’) and Willmus primus Abbas Rievall (‘William first abbot of Rievaulx’).

Rievaulx Abbey © David Gill

The chapter house became the burial place of subsequent abbots, including William Punchard (d. 1203), Peter (d. c. 1307), and John I (d. c. 1327).

The Abbey at Dundrennan (HES) was founded by Rievaulx in 1142.

Rievaulx is now maintained by English Heritage.

Hog-Back Tomb at Kingarth

Kingarth, Bute © David Gill

The monastic site of Kingarth lies at the southern end of the isle of Bute and is in the care of Historic Scotland. It is the location of the 12th century church of St Blane. The hog-back tombstone is marked with an explanatory Ministry sign. It reminds us that the tomb was ‘traditionally but mistakenly known as the tomb of St Blane but in fact a grave-marker of a Viking settler’.

Other Ministry signs appear at Kingarth.

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