Tyne and Wear HER(12212): Whitburn Parish Church, grave slabs - Details
Whitburn Parish Church, grave slabs
Religious Ritual and Funerary
1) A slab of coarse brown sandstone now built into the external face of the south wall of the south aisle to the west of the porch, 1m above ground level. The slab is 1.88m long but has been cut into two pieces, losing the cross shaft and the centre of the head. The original width of the head would have been 0.66m and the base 0.42m. The cross head is carved in relief within a sunken circle. The head is a double ring type with a bracelet cross at the centre surrounded by a ring of 8 bracelets with cross bands. The terminals are fleur-de-lys form. The base is a three-step calvary. On the right side of the shaft is a sword and a weathered inscription which Boyle (1892, 570) interprets as 'CVRME CARNIS Q…. QVOD ES FUI'. However Hutchinson's guidebook conjectures it to read 'DURO DORMES SURGERE QUOD ESTI' (I last for ever, thou sleepest to rise what thou hast been). The slab has a chmafered edge, the corners of which are ornamented with a dog-tooth motif. Second half of C13. 2) A weathered slab of light-colourered sandstone, 1.83m x 0.43m x 0.32m. Now built into the external face of the west wall of the south aisle 2.5m above the ground. Relief design, a straight-arm cross with cup terminals enclosed within a circle. Part of an emblem on the left side of the shaft is visible. An unpublished drawing by C.C. Hodges in the Black Gate Museum shows the stone in better condition, with a knife to the left of the shaft and a poleaxe to the right. Could be C12 or later. 3) A slab of purple-grey sandstone, 1.55m x 0.36m. Now built into the external face of the west wall of the south aisle 1m above ground level. The base and the right edge of the slab have been cut away. Relief design. The cross head has eight arms with fleur-de-lys terminlas, each with a distinctive swollen 'calyx' (like an example at St. Oswald's Church in Durham) enclosed within a circle. Pairs of shoots terminating in fleur-de-lys spring at right angles from the shaft. On the left of the shaft is a key. C14. 4) In between slabs 2 and 3 is a stone 0.42m x 0.19m which from its form may be the head of a slab with its upper angles chamfered but the only carving visible is a single incised marginal line.
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, p 118; J.R. Boyle, 1892, Comprehensive Guide to the County of Durham, p. 570; Tyne and Wear Museums, Draft South Tyneside Coastal Survey: Its Archaeological & Historical Record, p 54; J. Hutchinson, not dated, The Story of the Parish Church, Whitburn