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Medieval Tombstones and Coffin Lids of Bangor-on-Dee.

First published by the Bangor-on-Dee Local History Society 1992


Over the centuries Bangor has been very careless - or vandalistic - with the medieval tombstones and/or coffin lids that were once in the church or have been periodically turned up in the churchyard.  Some of them have disappeared only over the last hundred years or so.  What has been lost?

Firstly, the two tombstones mentioned by Edward Lhwyd as lying in the chancel. They had vanished by 1699 - (a) a stone with 'HIC IACET D[AVI]D AP MADOCK AP ENNION' in 'old Saxon capitals' about a shield charged on sinister side with a lion rampant; (b) on the south side of the altar a gravestone with the inscription 'HIC IACET ANEHARAT FILIA IERWERTH'.  She was the wife of Madog ap Gruffydd Ddu.  These stones were probably destroyed before 1660.

Secondly, of the five coffin lids illustrated by Thomas Pennant in his Tour in Wales (1784) only one has survived [5] Lost are:

[1] Stone with head above a shield carrying a lion rampant and in a border, in Lombardic capitals, '+ HIC IACE/T : WILLIAM +/ LE FRENS : ' , sword lying diagonally behind with pommel in top dexter corner.

[2] Stone with head and shoulders in coffin above shield carrying lion rampant and in Lombardic border, ' + HIC IACE/T : ITHEL +/ KADWGON'

[3] 'An ancient cross', more correctly an expanded arm cross within a circle, with below, a griffin passant and lion passant, interpreted by Pennant as 'the early embracing for Christianity by the nations of our island'.  The griffin or griffon, half eagle, half lion, was anciently a symbol of divine power or a guardian of the divine.

[4] A conventional checky heraldic shield, sword behind set bend-wise, and remaining space filled with curving stems branching out into tri-lobed leaves.

A similar shield and sword lid [5] went missing but was found in 1924 in the grounds of Maes-y-nant (present Cross Lanes Hotel) and is now in the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.

So at the present time all that there is in Bangor Church (east end, north aisle) is the lower half of a 14th century lid (not illustrated).  Design is a simple fretted central rib with a series of curved volutes in pairs, with sufficient variation in design, style and workmanship to suggest that more than one mason worked on the stone.

Overton Church, as a former Perpetual Curacy of Bangor, has been equally badly served, but still to be seen are:

[8] The weathered lower half of a c.1300 slab to the memory of Angharad verch Einion, with a central pattern of twisted stems and leaves emerging from lion's mouth at the bottom.  A border of Lombardic capitals reads: '...RAT : FILIA :/ EUN/IAWN : OR...' ('Here lies Angharad daughter of Einion.  Pray for her').

[7] Fragment of expanded arm cross formed in circle, inserted upside down into base of westernmost pier of south arcade.

[6] Badly mutilated fragment(s) of early 14th century four-circle ribbed cross slab. Hanmer Church lost several medieval tombstones in the great fire of 1889.  What excuses have Bangor and Overton?

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Coffin Lid One Bangor-on-Dee
Coffin Lid Tw0 Bangor-on-Dee
Coffin Lid Three Bangor-on-Dee
Coffin Lid Four Bangor-on-Dee
Coffin Lid Five Bangor-on-Dee
Coffin Lid Six Bangor-on-Dee
Coffin Lid Seven Bangor-on-Dee
Coffin Lid Eight Bangor-on-Dee
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