Abergavenny – three more post-Reformation cross slabs

(and a possible fourth … or is it …)

Two years ago, on a student visit to St Mary’s Abergavenny, one of my students, Gareth Kinnear, spotted one of those post-medieval cross slabs that I had missed (see https://welshtombs.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/on-the-benefits-of-a-fresh-pair-of-eyes/ for a photo and some background). This year it was Justin Edmunds’ turn. Just north of the north choir stalls, he spotted two stones. The westerly one


Is particularly interesting. The very plain, only slightly splayed cross pattée is similar to ones I’ve seen just over the border (see https://welshtombs.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/herefordshire-everything-but-the-cross-slab/ for one at Kilpeck) though as far as I can see the Kilpeck one doesn’t have the IHS trigram. But the lettering on the Abergavenny stone is in raised ‘lombardic’ capitals like the lettering on most of the seventeenth-century stones in Brecon. That style is generally as far as I know confined to south Breconshire – the post-Reformation slabs in Monmouthshire and over the border into Herefordshire have incised lettering. Of course, we can’t be sure that what survives is representative of what was there originally. Oddly enough, the lettering on the Brecon stones and on this one from Abergavenny is similar to the lettering on the medieval stones in north Wales that Colin Gresham studied.

It is possible, though, that what we have here is a stone that was worked on by two stonecarvers, one doing the cross and the other doing the lettering, and that they had originally trained in different areas. Unfortunately, not enough of the stone survives for us to work out who it commemorates. It is becoming ever more clear, though, that there was a number of stonemasons’ workshops producing these stones, with a range of designs to suit all tastes if not all pockets.

The second stone which Justin spotted


is even more fragmentary: one finely-incised fleur-de-lys finial and just enough of two more arms to make it clear that this is a cross head. By analogy with others I’ve seen with that incised fleur-de-lys design I think this one is also post-medieval, though it could be very late medieval.

Thanks to another student, Nathan Clements, for photographing the stones for me.

Abergavenny also has a fragment of one of those big crosses with flanking vernacular figures- we spotted this on a Society of Antiquaries’ visit


(photo from the consulting archaeologist at the church, George Nash FSA). This must have been similar to the one at Grosmont (see https://welshtombs.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/more-cross-slabs/ ) .

And finally – on our visit last Tuesday we saw an eighteenth-century ledgerstone with a design of interlacing circles that could have been seen as a cross – no photo of that one, though. I need to go back AGAIN …

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