“Whilst enjoying a bank holiday stroll, Royal Commission staff member Nikki Vousden and Dr Roderick Bale (archaeologist at University of Wales TSD Lampeter) came across a long-lost medieval inscribed stone in a stream in Silian.
The find spot is just south-west of St Sulien’s Church, Silian (NPRN 402554), home to two further medieval inscribed stones. The church site, thought to have been of high-status, has been in use for at least 1500 years. Although the current church building dates from 1873, it is thought to stand on medieval foundations and has an early-fifth/sixth-century inscribed stone built into its south wall.
The lost stone was first noted by Nash-Williams in The Early Christian Monuments of Wales; a cast of its inscribed face was made for the National Museum of Wales. It was tentatively ascribed to Silian because of the label on a photograph, also at the National Museum of Wales. The stone is referred to as ‘Silian 3’ in Nancy Edwards’ Corpus of Early Medieval Inscribed Stones and Stone Sculpture in Wales, Volume II, and its decoration is thought to be ninth/tenth century in date.
The stone measures 70cm x 38cm and decoration is visible on around a third of its face. The pattern includes a linear Latin cross with a lozenge shaped ring at its upper end. There are only two other definite examples of crosses in lozenge shaped rings in Wales: ‘Llanllawer 3’ from St David’s Church, Llanllawer (NPRN 308778), and ‘Llandecwyn 1’, from St Tecwyn’s Church, Llandecwyn (NPRN 43903).
How the Silian 3 stone ended up in the steam is a mystery, especially as someone obviously once knew of its significance and took a cast. We are currently awaiting information as to the provenance of the cast and associated photograph, and will provide an update when this becomes available. Amazingly, the stone lay hidden in the stream until one day the water on its wet surface helped highlight the incised pattern and it was spotted!”