Corpus Refs:Davies/etal/2000:M2
Discovery:first mentioned, 1855 Keranflec'h, C. de
History:Davies et al/2000, 183--185: `The Lomarec sarcophagus, situated within the north-east corner of the chapel of Saint-André at Lomarec, beside the altar, was first brought to public attention by Charles de Keranflec'h at the 1855 Brest congress of the Association bretonne. The monument, an object of popular veneration `since time immemorial', had recently been pointed out to him by L. Galles of Vannes. At the Association's Saint-Brieuc congress, Keranflec'h's friend Hersart de la Villemarqué devoted a paper to the sarcophagus and offered an interpretation of the text which he had arrived at after consulting `Welsh scholars of the University of Oxford'. Keranflec'h discussed the sarcophagus in more detail at the 1858 Quimper congress of the Association. That same year La Villemarqué presented the new discovery to the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres in Paris, thus bringing it to the attention of the wider archaeological establishment. Perhaps as a consequence, the Lomarec inscription featured in Le Blant's catalogue of Merovingian inscriptions, the only example from the four départements of Brittany to be included; from then on, the sarcophagus was mentioned in regional surveys and Euzenot discussed it in his works on Breton sarcophagi, quoting at length from La Villemarqué's study.

In October 1969, at the request of Léon Fleuriot, Patrick André and Gildas Bernier excavated the area immediately around the sarcophagus to lay bare the surrounding structures. Subsequently the fractured sarcophagus was consolidated with cement and returned to its original position. André gave a brief report on the work (Andre/1970), his article being accompanied by Bernier's survey of previous studies of the sarcophagus and by Fleuriot's detailed discussion of his interpretation of the text of the inscription. André observed that the sarcophagus is oriented exactly east-west; and its internal depth is slightly greater at the west (head) end than at the east (feet) end.

The excavation did not reveal any new carvings, as had been hoped, but it threw some light on the relationship between the sarcophagus and its context. The rendering was removed from the interior of the north wall of the chapel, close to the sarcophagus, revealing three different periods of construction. The lowest level was composed of fragments of brick and tile, considered to be of Gallo-Roman date, at a depth of 50cm below the external ground level; some fragments also projected to serve as bedding for the sarcophagus, especially in the middle of its long side. Above this lay the lower courses of the chapel wall, a dry-stone construction about 25cm high, consisting of poorly dressed large stones, some of which are still visible on the exterior of the north-east corner of the chapel. The top level, comprised of well-cut stones (including a re-used cross-marked stone), carefully cemented together, was part of the build of the current chapel (dated 1606 on the basis of an inscription on the exterior).

It was therefore demonstrated that the lowest courses of the present chapel use differently prepared stone and a different construction technique from that of the upper courses; they were interpreted as belonging to an earlier chapel (or chapels) on the same site. Since the earlier structure(s) lay on `Gallo-Roman' foundations which also formed part of the bedding of the sarcophagus, it was considered that the placing of the sarcophagus pre-dated the construction of the pre-1606 building. Fleuriot therefore came to the opinion that the successive chapels had been built around the sarcophagus.

The monument was subsequently catalogued by Guigon/1994, 77--78.

The site was visited by members of the CISP team in May 1970, May 1997, September 1998, and May and June 1999'.

Geology:Davies et al/2000, 185: `a single piece of creamy coloured granite'.
Dimensions:0.39 x 2.06 x 0.6 (Davies/etal/2000)
Setting:in ground
Davies et al/2000, 183: `The Lomarec sarcophagus, situated within the north-east corner of the chapel of Saint-André at Lomarec, beside the altar'.
Davies et al/2000, 185: `The sarcophagus was carved from a single piece of creamy coloured, micaceous granite. … The sarcophagus is trapezoidal, with the north-west and north-east angles, at either end of the inscribed face, being roughly 90°. Its internal length is 190cm and its internal width at the head is 48cm, tapering to 26cm at the foot. The average thickness of the side walls is 7cm and of the head end 8cm. The average internal depth is 35cm. At floor level in the middle of the east end there is a semi-circular drainage hole (4cm high, 5cm broad). The head end is reinforced by two projecting ribs (of which the northern is 5cm by 3cm, and the southern 3cm by 3cm), forming a kind of shallow niche for the head'.
Condition:complete , some
Davies et al/2000, 185--186: `Already by the time Keranflec'h saw it, the sarcophagus had broken into three large pieces, perhaps at the time a step was cut on the south side, since one of the fractures runs from the corner of the step. Apart from this damage, what is visible of the monument is well preserved'.
Folklore:Bernier/1982 notes that children with walking difficulties used to be laid inside the sarcophagus.
Crosses:1: equal-armed; linear; straight; other; square; none; none; none; n/a

Davies et al/2000, 186--187: `The floor of the sarcophagus is incised with a simple equal-armed cross 14cm from the west end, that is beneath the resting place of the head. It consists of two, thin, straight lines (24cm x 24cm) with small triangular expansions at each terminal, similar to those of the letters; the scale of the carving (which has been chiselled with a V-shaped chisel) is also similar to that of the letters. The cross is not quite central, being closer (10cm) to the south face than to the north face (13cm)'.



LMARC/1/1     Pictures


Fleuriot, L. (1970):IRHAEMA + INRI
The King is entombed (or moulders to earth) here.
Fleuriot/1970 639--53 reading only
Davies, W. et al. (1999):IRHAEMA{+}I:N:R:I:
Here lies Haema (PN), (buried) on the Ides of November; he retreated in peace.
The blood of Jesus the Nazarene king of the Jews would go forth.
Jesus the Nazarene king of the Jews pours forth blood.
Davies/etal/2000 188--191 reading only


Position:N ; broad ; n/a ; undecorated
Davies et al/2000, 186: `The letters of an inscription form a single horizontal line occupying almost the whole of the north interior face of the sarcophagus. The text begins 2cm from the head end and runs to about 9cm from the foot end. The distance from the top of the letters to the rim of the sarcophagus varies between 4cm and 6cm, and that from the bottom of the letters to the floor of the sarcophagus varies between 9cm and 11cm'.
Davies et al/2000, 187: `chiselled with a V-shaped chisel'.
Date:550 - 600 (Bernier/1982)

400 - 599 (Davies/etal/2000)
Davies et al/2000, 193: `The letter forms of the inscription inside the sarcophagus are most easily interpreted as of 5th or 6th century date … Altogether, the available evidence would support the argument for the inscription having been made in the early middle ages, in the immediate post-Roman period'.
Language:Indeterminate (rcaps)
Ling. Notes:Davies et al/2000, 188--191: `(1) Fleuriot read the inscription as purely Neo-Brittonic irha ema * in ri `the king is entombed (or moulders to earth) here'. He related irha to the denominative verb meaning `turns green, turns to earth' MW irhaa, MIr. úraigidir (DIL sn.), implying a notional Celt. *uro-sag-. In Mod.Ir. úruighim is attested in the sense `I am entombed, I turn to earth' (Dinneen/1927, sn. úir). Cf. also the Early W compound ir-fedd `green (fresh) grave'. Ema is compared to MW yma, ëma, C ymma, B ama, amañ `here'. In would be the definite article `the' (older demonstrative `this'), which occurs frequently as OB in, en, OIr. in. Ri corresponds to British rix, OW ri, OIr. , Lat. rex, etc.

If Fleuriot's analysis were correct and the palaeographic conclusion of a 5th- or 6th-century date were also correct, it would be a finding of great importance. Not only would we have linguistic evidence for a fully developed early medieval language, like Old Breton or Old Welsh, but we would also see the precocious emergence of a literary vernacular, not just the insertion of native names into Latin text. However, Fleuriot's theory cannot be confirmed. The continuous Brittonic of the Towyn inscription in Wales may date to as early as c. 700; the manuscript tradition of the Gododdin poetry has been traced as far back as the 7th century but no farther. Fleuriot's reading would push back the continuum by roughly an additional century.

For the following reasons, we do not endorse Fleuriot's analysis. (a) In irha < Celtic *ur-sag-, the loss of final -g after -a- could occur early (Jackson/1953: 469--70), but hardly as early as this. It is still there in (Archaic) OW Cunedag in the 7th-century material in Historia Brittonum ch. 62. (b) The article is generally absent from the earliest Welsh and Irish poetry. Would this genre be different in this regard? Or might we read in ri as `this king'? Cf. perhaps Gaulish indas mnas `these women'. (c) Although molendium in ri (probably `the king's mill') occurs in an 11th-century Breton source, the evidence for the word ri is mostly from other Celtic languages. (d) The interpuncts between the last four letters do not support the word separation in ri.

(2) It would be equally possible to expand the inscription as follows:

i(c) r(equiescit) Haema * I(dus) N(ovembres) r(ecessit/equievit) i(n pace)

`Here lies Haema, (buried) on the Ides of November; he retreated in peace'.

Haemon and Haemus are both attested (ultimately Greek) names, as for example in Sidonius Apollinaris, Carmina ii.34; and there is also the common noun haema `blood'. From Germanic, one may compare the Old English Haimo, Haymo. These two also occur in compound names, as does Hæm. Breton and Welsh parallels for the name are unpromising. The OB name Hamoion, Hamaion probably contains OB ham, Mod. B hañv `summer', for which haem would never have been a good spelling. OB hoiam `longest, tallest' is common as a personal-name element. That haem might be a spelling for hoiam is possible (though unlikely); for example, the element `iron', usually written as OB -hoiarn (when stressed), sometimes appears as -haern in OW.

Both IC R(EQUIESCIT) and R(EQUIESCIT) are attested (LeBlant/1865 no. 90; Descombes/1985 no. 289), as is I(DUS) and R(ECESSIT) (Felle/1993 no. 58; Mennella/1990 nos. 13, 15, Gauthier/1975 no. 170).

(3) Although, as La Villemarqué pointed out, the INRI formula (Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum) is not found before the late middle ages (Villemarqué/1858, 123; cf. Favreau/etal/1994 no. R8, dated to 1215-20), Favreau/etal/1984 no. A24, dated to the 9th century, has Ihesus Nasarenus Rex Iudeorum and the formula could have been coined any time after the Vulgate text of the Gospels became common in western Europe, that is after the mid-5th century. Given the interpuncts between the letters, this must remain the most obvious interpretation of these four letters.

David Howlett (to whom we are grateful for permission to cite his comments) has therefore proposed the Latin:

ir(et) haema + I(esu) N(azareni) r(egis) I(udaeorum)

`The blood of Jesus the Nazarene king of the Jews would go forth'

or alternatively 6th- or 7th-century transliterated Greek and Latin:

irh aema + I(esus) N(azarenus) r(ex) I(udaeorum)

`Jesus the Nazarene king of the Jews pours forth blood'

He draws attention to St John's Gospel 5.2-9 and 9.5-7, and 1 John 1.7, with their references to the healing pools of Bethesda and Siloam, and to the cleansing blood of Christ'.

Palaeography:Davies et al/2000, 187--188: `The inscription is in capitals. The letters are of varying sizes, and most have serifs. The H, first A, E, N, and Is are standard capitals but the other letters are more distinctive. The first R's oblique stroke does not reach the `base-line' and the serif on this stroke is at an angle, suggesting that the letter has devolved from the classical norms of Roman inscriptions; indeed, on both Rs the oblique stroke does not join with the bow. The M is thin and tall with the first and fourth strokes vertical and two short middle strokes that join near the top of the letter. This letter form was common in early medieval France and the Rhineland and was known, for example, from the 4th to 8th centuries in Trier and the 5th to 7th centuries in Vienne, as well as on the 7th- to 9th-century inscription from Vertou near Nantes [VRTOU/1]; it is unknown in Insular inscriptions before the mid-11th century [TNTGL/1].

The letter following the M is an A without a cross-bar. This letter form is well attested on Roman and early medieval inscriptions.

There is no attempt at the decorative capitals which became common in both Gallic and Insular inscriptions from the 7th century and, although this may be the result of regional style, it is as likely to suggest an early date for the carving of this inscription.

The so-called `chrism' between the two groups of letters is of a type with no vertical stroke; there is no sign of a loop on the stroke closest to the vertical. On the other hand, the `star' is quite a common decorative motif above, or at the beginnings of, Roman inscriptions, although it is not found within text as it is here (Collingwood/Wright/1965 nos. 373, 762, 932, 1266, 1397, 2001). On medieval Insular inscriptions the `star' is unknown, while on Gallic inscriptions it is known on only two from Tourdan, dated to AD 547 and 564, but is again not found within the text.

The inscription also contains interpuncts between each of the last four letters, and again, as in M1, following the final letter.

Capitals are notoriously difficult to date, but the combination of uneven lettering, the form of the R and the M, the plain style of the lettering, and the possible parallels for the `chrism' or `star', is suggestive of carving made within the 5th or 6th centuries'.

Davies et al/2000, 187: `Never having been exposed to the elements, the carving is exceptionally well preserved. All the letters are clear and there can be no doubt of the reading'.
Carving errors:0