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Roman Inscribed Stone 1m South of St Piran's, Tintagel

Description: Roman Inscribed Stone 1m South of St Piran's

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 1 May 2014
Building ID: 1420046

OS Grid Reference: SX0761889154
OS Grid Coordinates: 207618, 89154
Latitude/Longitude: 50.6702, -4.7239

Locality: Tintagel
County: Cornwall
Postcode: PL34 0BE

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Listing Text


A C3 AD Roman inscribed stone, probably a milestone, set on a modern granite base, 1m to the south of St. Piran's, Trethevey on the coast of north Cornwall.

Reason for Listing

The Roman Inscribed Stone 1m to the south of St. Piran’s House, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Historic interest: it contributes significantly to our understanding of the development of route ways and administrative practices in the Romano-British period on both on a regional and national scale;
* Intactness: despite being worn, the inscription on the stone is still legible and relatively complete;
* Rarity: it is of particular interest as one of only five such designated inscribed Roman stones in Cornwall and one of only around twenty in the country;
* Group value: it has strong group value with a nearby late-Roman inscribed stone in the west end of the south transept of the Church of St Materiana, which is listed as part of the church (Grade I), and the other three designated Roman inscribed stones/ milestones in Cornwall.


This inscribed stone is thought to be a Roman milestone. These were usually set up when a Roman road was first constructed or when it was repaired. The principal roads in Roman Britain were originally constructed for military purposes, but later they also served to move goods and raw materials around the country for the growing demands of trade and industry. The routes of some Roman roads are still in use today. A milestone is usually a stone pillar with a Latin inscription incised upon it. The inscription usually gives the name and titles of the reigning emperor, his consulate and tribunican power and the mileage from a named town. Succeeding emperors were often commemorated by a fresh inscription on another face of an existing milestone, or by another milestone set up nearby. Later examples from the C3 and C4 AD seem to have been erected for propaganda purposes as they usually only give the emperor's name and titles, though it is possible that the mileage was painted on rather than incised.

The inscription on the stone dates to 251-253 AD, a period of joint rule by the two emperors Volusian and Gallus. It is one of only five such milestones recorded in Cornwall. Together with a second milestone dating to the C4 AD found at Tintagel churchyard entrance, 2.67km south-west of Trethevey (scheduled ancient monument), this may be evidence of a Roman route through north Cornwall. It has been suggested that these two inscribed stones may originally have marked a possible Roman route along the higher, more level ground inland from the north coast, which is bisected by deep river valleys. The proposed route is marked by the Waterpit Down early medieval decorated and inscribed wayside cross shaft (scheduled ancient monument), 3.75km to the south of the stone at St Piran’s, and it can be traced on a north east-south west alignment through field boundaries in both directions from the cross-shaft, to be eventually continued by extant roads for this road, east of Trethevey.

The stone was found in 1919 in use as a gatepost. At this time it was relocated and set into a wall in the garden of St. Piran's (listed Grade II*). In 1980 it was moved again to a flower-bed in the grounds of the house. In 2009, as part of a monument management programme, the stone was restored (including the removal of the C19 iron gate fittings) and moved to a new location on the verge in the lane south of St. Piran's . It was set on a new granite base and an interpretation plaque was added to the nearby wall.


MATERIAL: granite.

PLAN: 1.26m high, 0.32m wide and 0.26m thick.

DESCRIPTION: an upright granite pillar positioned on a modern granite stone base, the south-west face bears an incised inscription, very worn, in several short lines. The inscription is in Latin and reads ` C/ DOMI/ NGAL/LO ET/VOLUS' which is a shortened form of the Latin for `imperatorinus caesaribus domini nostra Gallus et Volusian'. This translates as `for the emperors, caesars, our lords, Gallus and Volusianus'. Also on this face are two holes: one is 0.25m above ground level; the other is 0.56m above ground level, which were the location of the C19 gate hinges. The hinges have been removed and the holes filled with hydraulic lime and coloured sand mortar.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.