Object Details

Magnus inscription

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Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright for Photograph:

Creative Commons

Location

Street:Abinger Place
Town:Lewes
Parish:Lewes
Council:Lewes District Council
County:East Sussex
Postcode:BN7
Location on Google Map
Object setting:On building
and in:Religious
Access is:Public
Location note:East wall, St John Sub Castro, Junction of Abinger Place and Lancaster Street
In the AZ book:East Sussex
Page:115
Grid reference:J5
The A-Z books used are A-Z East Sussex and A-Z West Sussex (Editions 1A 2005). Geographers' A-Z Map Company Ltd. Sevenoaks.
OS Reference:TQ4110
Previous location:In original church on the site, moved to current location 1884.

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Makers


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General Information

Construction period:c1200
Work is:Extant
Owner custodian:Church of St. John Sub Castro, Lewes.
Description:Remains of chancel arch, on south side of building with restored inscription on 15 voussoirs which commemorates a certain Magnus of Danish royal stock who chose to become an Anchorite at this church. Set into the centre of the arch is an upright 13th century graveslab.
Inscription:Carved inscription broken into sections of the 15 voussoirs:

CLAUDITUR HIC MILES DANORUM REGIA PROLES MANGNUS NOMEN EI MANGNAE NOTA PROGENIEI / DEPONENS MAGNUM SE MORIBUS INDUIT AGNUM PERPETE PRO VITA FIT PARVULUS ANCHORITA

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Classification

Categories:Commemorative, Religious, Architectural
Object type1:Marker
     Object subtype1:Inscribed stone
Object type2:Building
     Object subtype1:Inscribed stone
Subject type1:Non-figurative

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Object Parts

Part 1:Inscribed arch
     Material:Caen stone
     Height (cm):250
     Width (cm):280
     Depth (cm):10

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Object Condition

Overall condition:Fair
Risk assessment:At risk
Condition 1 of type:Surface
     Condition 1: Corrosion, deterioration
     Condition 2: Previous treatments
     More details:Inscription weatherworn. Evidence of previous repairs.
Condition 2 of type:Structural
     Condition 1: Broken or missing parts
     More details:Large section at the bottom of the tomb broken away.
Date of on-site inspection:11/02/2008

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History

History:‘Although the church of St John-sub-Castro was replaced by the present building in 1839, there are antiquarian records of the earlier church. Moreover, two architectural elements from the demolished church were reset in the external faces of the chancel of new building, and apparently relocated to the chancel when it was added in 1884: the so-called ‘Magnus inscription’ is on the east wall and the former south door is set into the north wall. Against the evidence, the Magnus inscription –15 voussoirs with a Latin text in Lombardic and Roman letters referring to the cell of a Danish prince turned anchorite – continues to be associated with the Anglo-Saxon church and the chancel arch thereof. However, it is evidently of much later date (possibly c.1200) and, at c.8ft diameter, can hardly derive from what was a 16ft-wide chancel arch. More probably it comes from an opening from the chancel to an attached anchorite cell. The re-sited south doorway is shown on antiquarian views of the medieval church towards the west end of the south wall of the nave. It was blocked up in 1779 (thereafter framing a 13th-century graveslab, as it does today in its reset location) and replaced by a doorway in the west tower. Surprisingly, the doorway has been subject to very little analysis. A recent assertion that it has shafts of Quarr stone is erroneous and significantly so: there are only four pieces of Quarr, and these form part of the imposts and their continuation as a stringcourse. Most of the stone is Caen, the first firmly datable and largescale use in England of which is in Lanfanc’s cathedral at Canterbury c.1070.
(Harris, Roland B. ‘Lewes: Historic Character Assessment Report’. March 2005. Sussex Extensive Urban Survey (EUS).East Sussex County Council).

‘Prince Magnus (‘Mangnus’ in the inscription) had himself walled up in the original church here, and his exploits were recorded on an arch leading into the chancel. When the old church was replaced in 1839, this was set into the outside wall. Parts have evidently been recarved (the earliest lettering is in a medieval Lombardic script). Magnus we learn, ‘becoming disgusted with the world and all earthly things, the vanity and vexation of which his own unhappy experience had taught him, retired from society and became an anchorite’.’
(Dead and Buried in Sussex, p74)

The inscription translates: 'Intombed a soldier here of royal race, Magnus his name, from mighty Danish source, resigned his title, gave the lamb his place, and closed as lonely eremite his course.'
'The prevailing opinion is that this Magnus was the third son of King Harold II by his first wife, whose mother, Githa, was a Danish princess, and sister of Sweyn, who succeeded Hardicanute'. After Harold's defeat his three sons sought refuge in Ireland but launched attacks sporadically on the English coast. They were eventually defeated by Beorn, Earl of Cornwall. The two elder brothers, Godwin and Edmund returned to Denmark and the third, Magnus, is said to be he who is buried in the original Saxon church.
('The Gentleman's Magazine')

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References

Source 1 :
     Title:'Dead and Buried in Sussex'
     Type:Book
     Author:Arscott, David.
     Page:74
     Publisher:S.B. Publications. Seaford..

Source 2 :
     Title:'The Gentlemans Magazine'
     Type:Journal
     Author:Urban, Sylvanus.
     Edition:Jul-Dec 1836
     Page:64-65
     Volume:VI
     Publisher:William Pickering: John Bowyer Nichols & Son. London.

Source 3 :
     Title:‘Lewes: Historic Character Assessment Report’
     Type:Archive
     Author:Harris, Roland B.
     Location:Lewes District Council.
     Publisher:Sussex Extensive Urban Survey (EUS). East Sussex County Council.


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Photographs





Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons

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