Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Unexpected Alphabets No 14
I'm busy photographing England's smallest county, Rutland, and on arrival at the churchyard of Holy Cross in Burley-on-the-Hill came across this remarkable gravestone. Apart from its fabulously momento mori skull and crossbones, it is very, very early for such a thing. Most memorials at this time (just decipherable as 1701 I think) were inside the churches, and there are no others of similar age as far as I could see. The local limestone has been used, but even so it appears to have weathered rather well. I have a thought that this is because the monument may have been inside the church and was removed during the inevitable Victorian 'restoration'. Or it could have been part of a larger piece of stone forming the side of a dismantled tomb chest, and cut with a rounded top when placed in isolation. But I still can't fathom out all of the inscription, other than that the person died on the 16th November and was only 20. Is 'Mason' a name or an occupation? And who is it? The surname may be 'Harald'. I'll just have to get back up here with a wire brush. No I won't. The other beautiful thing about this gravestone is what age has done to it with lichens and mosses. 'Pleasing Decay' in a country churchyard.