Posts Tagged ‘April’
The Annual General Meeting took place on Sat 27th April at Caerleon Endowed Junior School Hall at 2pm. The 2013 journal was available for collection at the AGM. The speaker, Dr Madeleine Gray, gave a talk entitled -
‘Memory and Mortality: the Medieval Tombstones of Monmouthshire?’
Research at the University of South Wales’s Caerleon campus
Death and Commemoration in Medieval Wales
At the Society’s 2013 AGM, Dr. Maddy Gray (Reader in History at the new University of South Wales) spoke about her research into medieval Welsh tombs.
Dr Gray is currently compiling an analytical database of medieval Welsh tomb carvings. Monmouthshire has some of the UK’s most spectacular examples of medieval effigy tombs, at Abergavenny.
We also have (at Abergavenny and elsewhere) plenty of the less well known incised cross slabs. These commemorated the ‘middling sort of people’- minor landowners, craftspeople, the urban elite. Often hidden by carpet or reused as building stone, they are a fascinating field for the history detective. There is a particularly good collection at Tintern Abbey, suggesting that local people were still loyal to their monastery in the difficult years of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Some of the slabs have complex inscriptions – prayers, fragments of liturgy – indicating the amount of thought families put into commemoration.
Monmouthshire’s tomb stones have sometimes gone on strange journeys. An alabaster panel from a chest tomb with a carving of St Michael was found in a quarry between Caerleon and Christchurch in the 1650s with a skeleton in a lead coffin. The skeleton was lost but the carving ended up in the Ashmolean museum in Oxford – see http://britisharchaeology.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/highlights/caerleon-figure.html , and for more about the carving and its context http://www.caerleon.net/history/photo/325/index.html . Was this an attempted exhumation and rescue from a monastic site that somehow went wrong?
Maddy’s database is supposed to end at 1540 but her interest in tomb carvings has moved into the seventeenth century. Monmouthshire was a centre of recusant activity after the Reformation and some of the county’s leading Catholics were sufficiently open about their faith to display the emblem of the Jesuits on their tombs.