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Tyne and Wear HER(13538): Newcastle, Austin Friary, effigy of a knight - Details

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Newcastle, Austin Friary, effigy of a knight




Commemorative Monument





During archaeological excavations in 1970, the monumental effigy of a knight was uncovered when overburden was removed west of the Austin Friars Tower. It was comparatively little worn and is complete apart from the head of one of the supporting angels, the hands and sword-head. This effigy is not mentioned in Hunter Blair's list of 35 medieval effigies (13 are knights) in Northumberland. The monument was found with its head to the east. There was no sign of its original tomb-chest or canopy. It measured 6 feet 9 inches x 3 feet 9 inches. The head, covered by a chain mail hood bound with a fillet, rested on two cushions. The arms were covered by a mail hauberk with straps at the wrists. The hands, now broken off, were joined in prayer. The knight wore a long mid-calf length sleeveless surcoat with a plain narrow belt. The right leg was crossed over the left. The legs and feet were protected by chain mail. The prick spurs were fastened with straps. The feet rested on a lion. There two two armorial shields on either side of the head and two supporting angels, one holding the cushions, and one a shield. The sword-head was gone but was attached to the left hand side by a broad sword belt. The shield was long, pointed and concave with armorials, and was held by a strap over the left shoulder. The arms on the shield can be identified as those of Sir Henry Staunton (argent a bend embattled counter embattled sable). Staunton was mentioned in the retinue of Sir John Cromwell and Sir Robert Umfraville, Earl of Angus when wardens of the March of Northumberland 1319-20. The general characteristics of the effigy fit well with the group of Northumberland works discussed by Hunter Blair. Like the knights at Seaton Delaval (St. Mary's Church), Hexham Priory Church and Newcastle Cathedral, the chain mail is formed by intersecting incised circles. Knights of a similar date from County Durham, like that from Chester-le-Street. Have a pattern of curving lines. Northumberland examples clasp their hands in prayer, those from Durham clasp the sword. The knight is most like that at Newcastle Cathedral. The armorial bearings testify that the subject was alive in 1320. The tomb may have been commissioned and executed during his life time, but a practical date for the monument would be 1320 or immediately after.




Barbara Harbottle, 1971, Excavation and Conservation of the Austin Friary and Holy Jesus Hospital, Newcastle; Lesley Milner, 1971, The Monumental Effigy; Leonard Evetts, 1971, Its Armorial Bearings all in Archaeological Newsbulletin for Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland, No. 10, Jan 1971; C.H. Hunter Blair, 1930, Mediaeval effigies in Northumberland, Archaeologia Aeliana, Series 4, Vol VII; C.H. Hunter Blair, 1929, Mediaeval effigies in the County of Durham, Archaeologia Aeliana, Series 4, Vol VI; Exchequer K.R. Accounts, bundle 15, No. 26 of Edward II, Indenture of Sir John de Crombewell and the Earl of Angus concerning the custody of the parts of Northumberland translated in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, Series 3, Vol IV, pages 20-4

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