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Doniert Stone

Doniert Stone1

Introduction to site

Doniert's Stone is also known as King Doniert's Stone. It is one of two ancient carved stones which stand together in an enclosure beside the road. The road links the A38 to Minions and Upton Cross, on the south-eastern side of Bodmin Moor. The two stones are parts of early medieval crosses, perhaps of late 9th century date.

Access and Facilities

King Doniert's Stone is signposted from the road linking the A38 to Minions. It is visible from the road. There is a small layby next to the stones for parking, and the stones are accessed by a granite step.

There are refreshments and toilet facilities in the nearby village of Minions. (3.5km).

The site is free to visit, and is open any reasonable time in daylight hours.

There are bus services to Common Moor Turn, Common Moor, which is about 400m from the stones (signposted from this location). Visit the Traveline website for customised sustainable transport options.

Location

View our interactive Access to Monuments map to find this and other nearby sites.

More information

Doniert Stone2

The Doniert Stone is the decorated pedestal for a large memorial cross. It is panelled on all four sides with a mortice cut into the top. This was probably to take a cross shaft and cross-head. Each piece is cut from an individual block of granite. Three sides of the stone are carved with beautifully designed interlace patterns. The fourth side is cut with an inscription bearing the name of the last recorded Cornish King. The inscription reads “Doniert rogavit pro anima” which translates as “Doniert begs prayers for the sake of his soul”. Documentary sources refer to a King Dumgarth who drowned c AD875 and with whom Doniert has been identified.

The second stone on the site, know as “the Other Half Stone” is a decorated cross-shaft. A mortice in the top indicates that this stone was designed to have either a cross-head socketted into the top or a further length of shaft and then the cross-head. The decorated panel on the front is an eight cord plait. The back has broken off but the two sides are uncarved, suggesting that the monument was never completed.

Doniert Stone3Both stones, as we see them nowadays, are only small fragments of original stone crosses. There can be no doubt that when first set up, these were impressive monuments. Assuming that the Doniert Stone commemorates a Cornish King, one can only speculate on its purpose. It stands beside a track only 12 miles from Hingston Down where in 838 the Anglo-Saxon King Edgar defeated a combined force of Danes and Cornish. This victory brought Cornwall under English control.

Similarly designed cross-shafts can be seen at nearby St Neot Church and St Just in Penwith in Cornwall as well as at Copplestone near Crediton and Exeter (in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum) in Devon. In South Wales, ‘composite’ and interlace-decorated crosses like these are found at Nevern and Carew. Whether there is any relationship between the two groups is uncertain.

In the seventeenth century local miners prospecting near the crosses broke into an underground chamber beneath the stones.
Various theories suggest that the chambers might represent a chapel or vault associated with the stones. Despite this, it seems far more likely that they relate to mining activities in the area.

The field adjacent to the one in which these two crosses originally stood is identified as “Two Cross Downs” on the 1840 Tithe Map. This probably in reference to these two crosses. The name also gives a clue to their original setting. Though now within a small enclosure surrounded by farmland, the stones would once have stood on open downland, like nearby Long Tom. At this point, tracks heading east across the downs towards Kit Hill, west to St Neot and Bodmin, south-west to Dobwalls and thence to Lostwithiel and Fowey, south to Liskeard and north up the Fowey Valley all crossed, making the location a significant one.

Related links

Sources/Further Reading