|Discovery:||first mentioned, 1670 Sainctroyne, A.|
|History:||Davies et al/2000, 162--164: `The huge pillar which stands in the churchyard of Sainte-Tréphine is first recorded in an unpublished manuscript of 1670 preserved in the Bibliothèque Nationale, MS fr. 16822 (formerly Fond de St Germain, no. 992). The text is a history of the abbey of Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuys and includes an account of a visit by the anonymous author and Dom Antoine Sainctroyne, prior of the abbey, to Sainte-Tréphine in September 1670 to investigate miracles and relics pertaining to the cult of Gildas. The pillar was then standing in its current location, but there was a local tradition that it had been miraculously pulled to the spot by two one-year-old bulls from a nearby stone wall.|
When the two men saw the pillar it was topped by a curious cross, with faces carved at the end of each arm and a child carved on the top. This cross has now gone, although Keranflec'h published a drawing which shows the stele beside a wooden chapel, topped by a simple cross.
The pillar was mentioned by Dom G.-A. Lobineau in the article on Sainte Trifine in his Les vies des saints de Bretagne. De Fréminville published a rather inaccurate drawing of it in 1837, and the pillar and its inscription were mentioned briefly by Cayot-Délandre in 1847. Keranflec'h gave a description to the Association bretonne at their Quimper congress in 1858 but not a reading. To accompany this article, Keranflec'h's friend Arthur de la Borderie published, in the same proceedings, the relevant passage of the 1670 `History of the abbey of Saint-Gildas de Ruis'. Gaultier du Mottay provided a more detailed description of the stone and its inscription but did not interpret the letters he saw. Le Mené's 1888 illustration of what he called `Saint Trémeur's column' represents the lettering very clearly; however, the depiction of the stone in isolation in open countryside appears to be artistic licence, particularly in view of the earlier illustration showing the stone beside the chapel.
Meanwhile Keranflec'h had visited the stone at just the right moment for oblique light to strike the carving and he was able to make the reading which had eluded him before. A few days later he presented a tracing from his rubbing to the Croisic congress of the Association bretonne (1888: 146 and pl. viii). A decade later Seymour de Ricci published his own reading of the inscription, his accurate reading of the second line allowing him to make the link with Michael.
In the 20th century scholarly interest in Sainte-Tréphine has tended to focus on the chapel beside the pillar and its contents. However, Gildas Bernier considered the inscription and appears to be the first to have noticed the incised cross, since it does not feature in any previous drawings or descriptions.
The site was visited by members of the CISP team in May 1997, October 1998, and June 1999'.
|Geology:||Davies et al/2000, 165: `grey granite'.|
|Dimensions:||2.67 x 0.72 x 0.9 (Davies/etal/2000)|
Davies et al/2000, 165: `The stone is set into the ground, askew to a small stone chapel, with its east corner hard up against the west wall of the chapel. The current south-west face is the display face of the monument'.
Davies et al/2000, 164--165: `The stone is a huge Iron-Age stele, now standing approximately 267cm tall. It is basically straight-sided but tapers slightly to a flat top.
At 130cm above current ground level, the north-west face measures about 90cm wide, the south-west about 72cm, the south-east about 74cm, and the north-east about 61cm. The most distinctive feature of this grey granite pillar consists of seventeen massive ribs which run from top to bottom, five on the north-west face, four on the other sides. The outer surfaces of these ribs are flat and vary 5-6cm in width. The furrow of each rib is gently curved, varying between 7 and 10cm in width at the surface and being about 2cm in maximum depth. The carving is regular and very precise'.
|Condition:||complete , some|
Davies et al/2000, 165--166: `The stone stands in the shade of a large yew and, as a result of the proximity of both chapel wall and tree, the summit and back of the pillar are damp and mossy. These are the areas that are most actively weathering and the top of the stone, which is covered with lichens, is eroded'.
|Folklore:||In the 17th century there was a tradition that the stone had been pulled to where it now is by two one year old bulls.|
|Crosses:||1: equal-armed; outline; expanded; plain; square; none; none; none; plain|
Davies et al/2000, 166: `A large incised cross runs for most of the length of the south-west (front) face, utilizing the pre-existing ribs in its design; as a consequence it is very hard to discern. The design consists of an equal-armed cross (croix pattée) 40cm high with a span of about 37cm (the width of one furrow and two ribs); it sits on top of a long shaft (143cm), having the width of one furrow (8cm). The end of the shaft flares out to the middle of the two neighbouring ribs, giving it a total width at this point of 17cm. Parallel expansions of similar proportions occur at the end of each cross arm. This is a formal and elegant composition. The total length of the cross is therefore about 183cm: it begins 38cm above current ground level and extends to approximately 46cm below the summit'.
|Keranflec'h, C. de (1888):||CRUX | IRIHAEL |
Keranflec'h/1888 146 reading only
|Le Mené, J.-M. (1888):||CRUX | MIHQEL |
LeMené/1888 92 reading only
|De Ricci, S. (1897):||EDU | MIHAEL |
DeRicci/1897 273 reading only
|Harmois, A.-L. (1910):||CRUX | I[R]IH[A]EL |
Harmois/1910 179 reading only
|Bernier, G. (1982):||CRUX | IRIHAEL|
The cross of Irihael (PN).
Bernier/1982 170 reading only
Guigon/1994 40 reading only
Pietri/1983 10 reading only
|Pietri, L. (1983):||CRUX | IRIHAEL |
Pietri/1983 10 reading only
|Davies, W. et al (1997):||CRUX | MIHAEL|
The cross of Mihael (PN).
Davies/etal/2000 168 reading only
|Position:||SW ; broad ; beside cross ; undivided|
Davies et al/2000, 166: `The inscription consists of two horizontal lines of text arranged one above the other on the right of the cross shaft, that is on the west corner of the stone, to the left of the observer'.
Davies et al/2000, 166: `appears to have been pocked and smoothed'.
|Date:||900 - 999 (Bernier/1982)|
900 - 999 (Guigon/1994)
700 - 999 (Davies/etal/2000)
Davies et al/2000, 170: `In the light of the available parallels, there is no reason to prefer any date within the 8th- to 10th-century period'.
|Ling. Notes:||Davies et al/2000, 168: `CRUX, as opposed to crox, is good Latin and does not reflect vernacular (Brittonic or Gallo-Romance) pronunciation'.|
|Palaeography:||Davies et al/2000, 168: `The inscription is in Insular half-uncial: the open minuscule R [cf. PLAGT/1, CRACH/1, LGUID/1, LCOAL/1], here rather squat and narrow, and the 'OC' form of A [cf. LDVEZ/1, LDAUL/1] make this clear. The two other letter forms most commonly found elsewhere in the corpus are the `wayward' X [cf. LDVEZ/1, LDAUL/1, LGUID/1, LCOAL/1] and the uncial E [cf. LDVEZ/1, LDAUL/1, PLMGT/1/2, SMGRV/1, with other parallels cited there). The minuscule H with flat serif on top of the ascender [cf. CRACH/1, LGUID/1], the minuscule M with rounded arches [cf. LDVEZ/1, PLGAT/1/2], and the serifed L [cf. CRACH/1, LGUID/1] are less common, while the I with a short leftward extension from the top of the ascender is not found elsewhere in the Breton inscriptions. Given that it is in Insular half-uncial, the lack of any capital forms and the simplicity of the inscription make a date within the 8th, 9th, or 10th century the most likely'.|
Davies et al/2000, 166: `It is very difficult to make out the lettering because of the mottling effect of the lichen which covers so much of the relevant area. However, once located the inscription is clear'.