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  • Mysterious Coffin Deposit June 10, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern , trackback

    John Aubrey (1626-1697) gives this curious description in Remaines (1689). What has he found here?

    At Priorie St Mary in the parish of Kington St Michael [in Wiltshire], have been formerly, and also lately found upon digging in the garden, in consecrated ground, severall coffins of freestone; they have all a hole, or two in the bottom, bored with an augur. There was found, 1637, a round stone like a little Grind-stone, of about 16 inches diameter, in the center whereof was a Heart held by two right hands, only on one side. To what use it served I could never learne: It was found at the foot of a Grave in which there was found a Chalice.

    A grindstone is, of course, the circular spun stone use to sharpen metal. An image of one above. The stone though, described by Aubrey, seems not to have had a hole at the centre but a heart and the two right hands, carved upon it? This sounds as if it is a late medieval or early modern object: Aubrey himself notes that in his own time the image of a heart between two  right hands was put on rings for sweethearts. This is certainly a reference to the Claddagh ring which was allegedly (dixit Wikipedia) first made in the seventeenth century.

    But what was this thing and why was it put in a coffin with a chalice (ecclesiastical?). Freestone coffins were used as far back as the later Roman empire in Britain, the holes were presumably to allow run off to escape from the rotting body? But these are distractions. What is the mysterious stone disc that Aubrey handled? drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com