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This branch of Archæology has hitherto attracted so little attention that it has no fixed nomenclature, and names have been rather loosely applied to the different kinds of grave-stones. It will therefore be necessary at the outset to state and define the names which it has been found convenient to use in the following pages.
Ancient grave-stones have here been divided into three classes, incised cross slabs, raised cross slabs, and head crosses.
By Inciscd cross slabs is meant flat recumbent gravestones, which have a cross or other Christian symbol incised upon them.
By Raised cross slabs is meant recumbent grave-stones, whether flat or coped, which have upon them a cross or other symbol in bas-relief. The old name for this class of grave-stones is coffin-stones or coffin-lids, but this name equally applies to many of the incised slabs, for they too frequently formed the lids of coffins. Moreover, these two classes have many features in common, especially in their designs; this connexion is expressed by giving to both the same generic name cross slabs. The name raised cross slab is perhaps rather clumsy, but it conveys the idea which is intended, of a slab of stone having a raised cross upon it.
Head crosses are monumental stones, ornamented with crosses or symbols either incised or in relief, placed upright at the head of the grave.
INCISED CROSS SLABS.
Grave-stones inscribed with the name of the deceased person whom they commemorated, and frequently with syinbols of his trade, and other ornaments, were in cominon use among the Romans and Romanized nations at the commencement of the Christian era. The Christians did not throw aside the fashion, but in addition to the usual inscriptions cut a cross, or fish, or some other of the Christian symbols upon their grave-stones, to intimate the deceased's profession of Christianity.
In the Lapidarian gallery of the Vatican at Rome are preserved many of these early Christian monuments which were found in the Roman catacombs". Nearly all these stones bear an incised cross or other Christian emblem ; some have in addition an inscription, others an emblem of the trade of the deceased, as the woolcomber's shears and comb', &c.; and many of them remind one of the common English grave-stones of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries.
Many of these monuments have been engraved in the “ Roma Subterranea” of Aringhi, in “Mammachii Origines et Antiquitates Christianæ,” and more recently in the “ Church of the Catacombs” of Dr. Maitland.
From these appear to have been derived the incised cross slabs so common throughout Europe in succeeding times. The common adoption of the fashion is easily accounted for by the fact that all Roman customs were very generally followed by the subjugated European nations. The frequency of pilgrimages to Rome in early times from all parts of Christendom, and the frequent communication be
a These catacombs formed the refuge and burial-place of the Christians at Rome from about A.D. 80 to about
Maitland's "Church of the Catacumbs," p. 223.
tween the clergy of all parts of Europe, probably had also great effect in producing, not only in this but in every branch of Christian art, that general resemblance which we find in early art throughout Europe,
By going from one country to another, we can obtain a connected series of these Christian grave-stones from the time of the Apostles to the present day. The series in the Lapidarian gallery extends from A.D. 89 down to A.D. 400. The next in order of date which we meet with, are in Ireland, where these early monuments are numerous. Of these the earliest which has hitherto been described is the stone of St. Brecan, A.D. 500°; next in order come those of Conaing, A.D. 822, Plate 1. ; Suibine mac Maelhumai, c. A.D. 891°; Blaimac, c. A.D. 896, Plate 1. ; Aigidin, A.D. 955°; Maelfinnia, A.D. 992, Plate il. ; and Flannchadd, A.D. 1003, Plate it. These Irish stones bring down our series to the beginning of the eleventh century. On Plate iii. is an example out of several found at Hartlepool : these stones are very small, and were not properly grave-stones, but were placed as bolsters under the heads of the corpses ; their exact similarity in design with the above Irish examples, indicates that such grave-stones were used in England, at the same period, as well as in Irelandd.
From this point we shall find our series completed down to the present time from English examples. Thus in the twelfth century we have the stones of Udard de Broham, A.D. 1185, Plate vii., and Plates iv., V., yl., VII. In the thirteenth century Gilbert de Broham, A.D. 1230, Plate ix., Bishop Quivil, A.D. 1291, Plate xv., and Plates
e Engraved in Petrie's Ecclesiastical law on the subject which must not be Architecture of Ireland.
omitted here, “Let every sepulchre he a Such types may however have been esteemed sacred, and let it be adorned confined to those parts of England which with the sign of the cross, and take care were under the influence of Irish mis- lest any tread upon it with their feet.”— sions or ecclesiastical settlements. Kenethi leges religiosæ, Spelman's Con
In the ninth century we meet with a cilia, p. 342.
VIII., IX., X., XI., XII., XIII. In the fourteenth Sire Nicholas de Huntingford, c. 1330, Plate XVIII.; the example from Holme Pierrepoint, A.D. 1394, Plate xxIII., and Plates xiv. to xxIII. In the fifteenth century the example from Topcliffe, A.D. 1492, Plate XXVIII., and Plates xxv., XXVI., XXVII. In the sixteenth century Plates xxvIII., xxix., xxx. In the seventeenth century the last example on Plate xxx.'
In England we find cross slabs most abundant in stony districts, as in the northern counties and in Derbyshire, and we find them of all kinds of stone, alabaster, Purbeck marble, granite, free-stone, lime-stone, &c.
In incised slabs we find a great difference in effect produced by different modes of treating the design.
Most frequently the device is merely outlined by lines incised in the stone; these lines were sometimes left open, sometimes filled in with lead, as in an example at Attenborough, Notts.; sometimes with white plaster or cement, as in an example at Papplewick, Notts.; sometimes with pitch : it is probable that other colours were also used, as was certainly the case upon the continent. Some of the incised stones in the Roman catacombs were thus filled in with coloured compositions e.
No doubt in many cases the slab itself was partially or wholly coloured. Traces of colour still remain on some stones. In illuminated MSS. we find representations of coloured slabs. For instance, in the Psalter of Queen Mary, A.D. 1554', in a representation of the general resurrection, occurs a coffin-lid which has a plain broad red cross, apparently not in relief, the stone being tinged with blue as if to indicate a marble slab. It will be convenient, while upon the subject, to discuss • Maitland's Church in the Catacombs, p. 14.
! Brit. Mus.