Tyne and Wear HER(11741): Gateshead, Church of St. Mary, medieval grave covers - Details
Gateshead, Church of St. Mary, medieval grave covers
Religious Ritual and Funerary
Several medieval grave covers and fragments have been incorporated into the fabric of the church. There was at least one more which no longer survives on site. One of these stone slabs may be Early Medieval and may have been used as a standing cross. In 1908 St. Mary's Church was restored to plans by architect W.H. Wood. During the work a medieval cross shaft was found built into the south transept. Fragments of it were collected by P.F. Ryder in 1988. The best visible examples of medieval grave covers are now located in the south porch. Gazeteer of surviving grave slabs: 1) slab in north wall of north aisle reset as the internal lintel of the blocked north door. Inscribed with a sword and a battleaxe. Such stones are common in Scotland. Found in 1911. 2) Medieval incised cross of C14 date built into west wall of the south porch. Has a fish on left side and a key on the right. Possibly a reference to the name Peter or a fish wife. Alternatively the fish could represent Christianity and the key a married woman. There is a crack across the lower half of the slab. 3) Medieval cross slab built into the east wall of the south porch. This is a freestanding slab with the head shaped into a cross of early type with rounded armpits. It is decorated with two diagonal lines. This is the earliest monument at the church. It may be Early Medieval and is certainly no later than C11. It was found in 1908 beneath the east wall of the south transept. 4) Medieval cross slab built into east wall of south porch. Possibly late C13 with clustered terminals carved into a circle. To the right are a pair of shears - symbolising a housewife or spinster?
Simpson & Brown Architects, July 2005, Gateshead Visitor Centre, Gateshead, Conservation Plan, pages 14 and 15 and Asset Gazeteer, Nos. 191, 192, 193 and 220; Peter F. Ryder, 1985, The Medieval Cross Slab Grave Cover in County Durham, Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland, Research Report No. 1; Peter Ryder, 1988, St. Mary's Church Gateshead: A report on the historical development and archaeological potential of the building and site; Peter F. Ryder, 1985, The Medieval Cross Slab Grave Cover in County Durham, Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland Research Report No. 1, pp 88-89