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Tony Grist

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Two Oddities [Aug. 25th, 2019|08:34 am]
Tony Grist
The church at Doddington is dedicated to The Decollation of St John the Baptist- decollation being a fancy, medieval word for beheading. No-one knows why. It could be that it once possessed a stone that was supposed to have been used as the execution block; there's a rumour of such a relic having been passed around in the area.

It's a big handsome building- but I what I really like are oddities- and here are a couple:

On the sofit (I believe that's the right word) of the window embrasure of a chapel on the north side is what is claimed to be the only surviving image of St Francis of Assisi in English medieval art. It's very worn and faded, but it still has presence. Those eyes look into the soul...

And then there's this- a ledger stone, set into the church floor, from which the inscription has been entirely removed- not smoothed away, but chopped out with neat, methodical blows from a chisel- and the cuts left visible so no-one could doubt that it was a deliberate act. Who lies under? Who wanted the record of this life erased-and why? Was it an act of revenge or spite? And why has the heraldry been left untouched? There's a story here but no-one knows what it is.


[User Picture]From: puddleshark
2019-08-25 08:21 am (UTC)
Oh my goodness... Those are two splendid oddities. Thank you.

I can't get over that obliterated inscription. I've never come across anything like it. One can almost read words through the hatching - I wonder if a laser scanner might be able to make them out? (My farrier once told me that some archaeologists with a laser scanner had scanned the old headstones in a ruined church near his house, and it had been able to make out inscriptions that were no longer legible to the human eye...)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-08-25 09:27 am (UTC)
Yes, a laser scanner might do the trick.

Another thing would be to lift the stone- and see if the coffin underneath carries a nameplate.

All it requires is for someone to be curious enough...

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[User Picture]From: strange_complex
2019-08-25 12:42 pm (UTC)
You probably could get something out of it with image processing, as all of the chisel marks are at more or less the same angle. A computer could be told to remove everything on that orientation - a technique also used to remove wood-grain from images of the Vindolanda tablets to make them easier to read. The eye would then be able to process what's left over much better.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-08-25 04:39 pm (UTC)
That might work. Someone should have a go.

Of course in the process they might very well activate an ancient curse...
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2019-08-25 12:23 pm (UTC)
someone with money. Thank you for this! I love your 'history tours'.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-08-25 04:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I usually visit these places "blind", see what's there- then read up about them afterwards.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2019-08-25 02:49 pm (UTC)
The Saint Francis is wonderful and does indeed show the soul of the saint.

I would love for somebody to process that stone to see if the inscription could be recovered. You have to wonder about who would do that and why. It is most intriguing!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-08-25 04:50 pm (UTC)
Was it done openly or surrepticiously? The culprit could have smashed the stone with a sledge hammer but they didn't- they went to work very carefully...
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[User Picture]From: inamellowmood
2019-08-25 06:33 pm (UTC)
That's an amazing portrait of St. Francis!

Also, the obliterated inscription looks like sheer blind hatred. Makes me wonder a lot who it was and why they did it.
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[User Picture]From: davesmusictank
2019-08-26 07:09 am (UTC)
Have you ever thought of doing a book? Your church history is more interesting than the last book I read on it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-08-26 07:50 am (UTC)
My information is second-hand- and very patchy. I don't know enough- or care enough- about architecture to produce a guide book.
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