Corpus Refs:Huebner/1876:131
Discovery:first mentioned, 1698 Lhuyd, E.
History:Gresham/1985, 386--389: `The earliest drawing of the stone and its inscription comes from the end of the seventeenth century in a notebook belonging to Edward Lhwyd, who in person visited the site to make his record [Lhwyd/1910, 84, 89]. His drawing is reproduced here...Lhwyd's notebook is dated 1698...Some fifty years later Lewis Morris visited the site...Later in the same century Thomas Pennant saw the stone and he also published [it]...Then in July 1846 H. Longueville Jones came to the site, made a rubbing of the inscription, and published a drawing from this in the first number of Arch. Camb....At some unspecified date in the third quarter on the nineteenth century John Rhys approached Bedd Porius but was driven away by a downpour of rain before he could read the inscription, so when writing about it he accepted Longueville Jones's reading as, did Huebner as well as Westwood in his Lapidarium Walliae...The next authority to visit the site was Archdeacon Thomas, who was there on 4 June 1884 and published his findings in Arch. Camb. the following year...It was not until 1896 that John Rhys finally got to the site...Before considering the date of and reason for the alteration that has been made to this inscription it will be helpful to say something more about the original situation of the stone, its position being by no means certain. Edward Lhwyd not unnaturally gives the earliest written information, and he wrote in his notebook as follows:

`Ye field wherin this stone lies is call'd maes y bedh in

Trawsvynydh parish. Within two fields of this stone is

llech Idris (in ye same parish) pitch'd on end.

The tenement wherin both stand is call'd Llech Idris from ye stone'.

When Pennant visited the site a hundred years later he worded his description so badly that it is generally considered that he saw the stone kept inside a local farmhouse because he starts his paragraph with the words `In a farm-house, not far from the road to Rhiw Goch, I visited Bedh Porus...'. However, his next sentence shows that he should have written `At a farm-house...' or `Near a farm-house...', because he continues `On a flat stone over it is the following inscription...'. This shows that by Bedh Porus he means some form of grave on which the stone was lying loose and not preserved inside a house.

A final pieces of information comes from Longueville Jones, who visited the site in 1846. He records that some years previously W. W. E. Wynne of Peniarth (1801--80), a very distinguished antiquary of his period, having come to see the stone found the farmer in the act of building it into a wall. He informed the landowner of Lllech Idris farm, Sir Watkins Williams Wynn, and as a result Sir Robert Williams Vaughan (1768--1843) of the neighbouring estate of Nannau made arrangements on behalf of the Wynnstay estate for the stone to be preserved in a small enclosure. It remained there until 1933 when it was removed to the National Musuem of Wales in Cardiff for safety because all the surrounding land had been sold by the Wynnstay estate in 1906 as an artillery firing range that remained in use for some forty years. The enclosure provided, where there is a cast of the stone, is some fifty yards in front of the place marked Maes-y-bedd on the Ordnance maps from which it is said locally that it was moved. This could be where both Lhwyd and Pennant saw the stone, but since they seem to imply that it was lying loose on the ground it is not necessarily the site of the original grave. The Ordnance maps record the modern site as Bedd Porus as the instructions to the surveyors included advice to use local pronunciations and that in use here is Bedd Porws. No doubt the use of the letter v posed a problem, and Porws make a better Welsh name that does Porivs'.

Geology:Macalister/1945, 396: `granite'.
Dimensions:0.69 x 1.02 x 0.18 (converted from Macalister/1945)
Setting:in display
Location:Cardiff Museum
Macalister/1945, 396: `Now in Cardiff Museum, whither it has been removed from a site about three miles south of Trawsfynydd, on the right bank of the river Cain, and about 1/4 mile from the imposing standing stone called Llech Idris'.
Macalister/1945, 396: `A slab'.

Nash-Williams/1950, 174: `Rough slab or pillar-stone'.

Condition:incomplete , some
Decorations:no other decoration



TRAWS/1/1     Pictures


Gresham/1985 386--388 concise discussion
Lhwyd/1910 89 reading only
Gresham/1985 386 concise discussion
Owen/1896 136--137 reading only
Gresham/1985 386 concise discussion
Pennant/1773 110--111 reading only
Jones/1846d 423--424 reading only
Gresham/1985 387 concise discussion
Thomas/1885 143--145 concise discussion
Gresham/1985 387 concise discussion
Rhys/1897 136--137 concise discussion
Macalister/1945 396--397 concise discussion
Porius (PN) lies here in the tomb. He was a plain man.
Nash-Williams/1950 174 concise discussion
Porius (PN)...He was a Christian person.
Gresham/1985 391 substantial discussion


Position:inc ; broad ; n/a ; undecorated
Nash-Williams/1950, 174: `Latin inscription in three lines reading horizontally (?), with other lettering added below in modern times'.
Nash-Williams/1950, 174: `thinly incised'.
Date:466 - 533 (Nash-Williams/1950)
Language:Latin (rcaps)
Ling. Notes:Gresham/1985, 388--389: `This [the later change to the inscription] is the chief point to be made here with the intention of staving off further attempts to publish translations of this inscription on the basis of the word planus...the many attempts to make sense of the noun planus in this context must all be rejected...[Robert Vaughan] wrote it:

Hic in tumulo iacet Eporeus qui homo XRianus fuit

He gives no translation of this, but he intends to make it clear by writing R instead of P that this letter is not Latin but Greek, and that we have here chi and rho forming the monogram for CHRISTOS with a Latin ending -ianus, meaning `He was a Christian man'.

Palaeography:Nash-Williams/1950, 174: `Roman capitals, thinly incised, with one three-letter ligature. The space between the first two words in l. 3, with faint traces of a bar above, has led to the conjecture that the second word originally read XPIANVS, i.e. Christianus. But the reading PLANVS seems certain'.

Gresham/1985, 386--389: `[a drawing] in a notebook belonging to Edward crucial to the argument...The name Porius and the whole of the second line of the inscription reading hic in tumulo iacit were thus exactly the same then as now on the stone itself, and it is only the last line that requires further attention. Lhwyd's notebook is dated 1698 and at that time he read and wrote down the words homo pianus fuit.

Lewis Morris visited the site and afterwards made the following note on a page of his printed copy of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Gesta Regum Britanniae: `In Mr. E. Llwyd's notes on Camden's Britannia, p. 662, there is a mistake in the inscription which he reads Porius hic in tumulo iacit Homo ... Rianus fuit. But the inscription is not Rianus but Pianus fuit, as I copied it myself, 1742'. Later...Thomas Pennant...also published the last line as being HOMO PIANUS FVIT...H. Longueville Jones...also reads HOMO PIANVSFVIT...Rhys [initially]...accepted Longueville Jones's reading, as did Hübner as well as Westwood...Archdeacon Thomas...found to his surprise that `instead of the accepted XPIANVS, it appeared to me to be simply PLANVS, whatever the meaning of that word might be'. This met with `considerable incredulity' and was only accepted later at the Annual Meeting at Bala in August, when an accurate drawing of the stone was made, showing the letters as they are at present. There must also have been considerable discussion about this remarkable change in the lettering, but no details of this are given, only the Archdeacon's conclusion that `the foot of the L is not any recent addition. It is of the same smoothness of incision and date as the rest of the letter'. It was not until 1896 that John Rhys finally got to the site and accepted PLANVS as an original word.

It is unlikely that Archdeacon Thomas and his fellow Cambrians knew of the drawing of the inscription made by Lhwyd in the late seventeenth century; if they had done they might have come to a different decision. To accept the letter L in PLANVS had been there always in the past, just as it is today, is to imply that four distinguished antiquaries -- Edward Lhwyd, Lewis Morris, Thomas Pennant, and Longueville Jones -- were one and all quite incapable of reading a prefectly clearly written inscription in Roman capitals. I am of the opinion that the documentary evidence makes it certain that the letter I in PIANVS was altered into an L at some date between 1846, when Longueville Jones made his rubbing, and 1884 when Archdeacon Thomas came to look at the stone.

However, there is not only the documentary evidence to go on, but also the visible evidence of the stone itself. On this point I asked Mr. J. M. Lewis of the National Museum of Wales to examine the stone with the possibility in mind that the inscription had been interfered with. This he has done, and has kindly allowed me to quote his findings. He considers that there has been some interference with the original inscription at the beginning of the word planus, pointing out:

(1) that this is the only place in the inscription where a space has been left between words;

(2) that the horizontal line above the P in fact begins above the space to the left, which seems to show that this space once contained a letter, and that this line is a symbol of contraction;

(3) that the horizontal bar of the L in planus is thinner than the upright, this and the form of the letter being in marked contrast with the other L in the inscription;

(4) that the surface of the stone between O and P appears to have been lowered by about a quarter of an inch, and bears some oblique and vertical scratches, as does the space between P and L. (In the bottom right-hand corner of the stone are lightly scored initials WV, which may or may not be related.)

When the photography and more particularly the rubbings of the inscription are compared with the drawings made by Lhwyd and Longueville Jones, it becomes reasonably clear that in its original state the foot of the letter I ended exactly on a line with the foot of the A carved closely next to it, and that the upright of the letter I has since been extended downwards by a distance of approximately a quarter of an inch so as to enable a narrow foot to be added to the letter converting it into a L. Had the L been part of the original inscription its foot would have been level with the foot of the A, and the clumsy makeshift by which the foot is placed below the A should surely have alerted the Archdeacon and his friends to the fact that an alteration recently been made, even though it had been cleverly disguised to match with the rest of the weathering on the surface of the stone...When the Cambrians visited the stone after it had recently arrived at the National Museum in 1933 Dr. R. A. S. Macalister pointed out to them that the L forming the word planus was not acceptable and `open to grave objections, not the least being that it is quite meaningless'. His warning has for some reason not been accepted, or more probably has been overlooked; nethertheless it is supported by both the documentary and visible evidence...The earliest reference to this inscription has purposely been omitted from the discussion so far because the evidence was sufficiently strong without it, and the other problems it contains might only have clouded the simple one of a change from an I to an L. This is the record of the Porius stone written down by Robert Vaughan, `The Antiquary of Hengwrt', who lived from 1592 to c. 1667. His version was quite clearly not an attempt to set out an exact record of the lettering on the stone, but is rather a would-be-scholar's amended version of how the Latin should have been correctly written. It is therefore not right to print it in capitals, but it should be in italics as would an English translation. He wrote it:

`Hic in tumulo iacet Eporeus qui homo XRianus fuit'

...This was the accepted version until 1884 when Archdeacon Thomas visited the site and decided PLANVS was genuine, as did Nash-Williams. Macalister saw that the L was a forgery, but would not accept that the erased letter was an X and suggested an S.

Robert Vaughan's version was clearly the basis of the inscription as printed in Gough's Britannia where it ends with the words:


Lhwyd having been persuaded by the editor that he had misread P for R, as is recorded in the text: `He Lhuyd acknowledges the inaccuracy of his transcript'. This caused some further confusion during the time that the stone read PIANVS, because those who saw it could find neither X nor R, and failed to realize that a letter had been cut away between the O and the P. The accepted explanation for the space in the inscription at this point was that the original surface of the stone had been so rough that the carver of the stone had to jump over it leaving a blank space. It should have been noted that not only had a letter been cut away, but also the missing letter and the adjoining P were marked by a contraction line over them.

The question that must now be asked is did Robert Vaughan actually see the letter X (or perhaps +) carved on the stone and still there in his lifetime, or was it just a part of his own invention? There can be no definite answer to this, but attention can be drawn to three separate points which taken together just tip the balance slightly in favour of his having seen the inscription in its entirety during the first half of the seventeenth century.

1. It is not very likely that Robert Vaughan would have had the intellectual capacity to decide that the letter which was so obviously a Roman capital P in a Latin inscription was in fact a Greek rho, unless the full chi rho initials with the abbreviation mark over them were visible to him.

2. If the inscription was entire with the missing letter complete, it is more likely that Vaughan saw and copied it before he was fifty years old, than later, yet by the last decade of the seventeenth century, when Lhwyd saw it, the first letter under the abbreviation mark had been removed. We can now ask why at any particular time between the sixth and sixteenth century should someone take the trouble to remove one letter from a Latin inscription. As answer to this is that during the short historical period indicated above a likely time for the removal of the letter there took place during the Commonwealth of Oliver Cromwell. In a study of the desecration of medieval monuments I have explained how during this period the more violent of the Puritan saints destroyed scores of carved monuments for no other reason than they had Latin inscriptions on them, the language of the devil, as they thought...If medieval monuments were thus treated there is no reason to imagine that early Christian ones were exempt. A Puritan who saw or who was told about the Porius inscription would have wished to smash the stone in pieces, but lacking a sledge-hammer or crowbar in such a remote spot would have had to make do with battering the idolatrous symbol.

3. In the charter granted by Llywelyn Fawr to the monks of Cymer abbey in 1209 there occurs the place-name Bedd yr Esgob. The section in which this appears is sufficiently clearly set out to show that the name is that of a fairly large holding of land situated on the east bank of ??? Cain opposite and upstream of the site where Bedd Porius was placed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which is a little over 200 yards from the west bank of that river. The presence of two names so close together has been noted by more than one commentator on the charter, and there does seem to be a possibility that Bedd Porius and Bedd y Esgob were one and the same thing. At the time when place-names in Welsh were first being adopted the inscription would have been fresh and entire, and those who could read it may have known by oral tradition that Porius was a bishop, and there was no lack of bishops in the sixth century; or on noting that he was a Christian man have assumed that so remarkable a grave could only have been that of a bishop.

It is thus possible to accept X~P~IANVS as having been the original reading of the inscription, and the translation `He was a Christian person' makes as good, or even better sense, as any other. Up to the middle of the nineteenth century the reading PIANVS on this stone, a word that looked like a Latin adjective but was not one, must have have proved to be an insoluble problem to those who did not realize that a letter was missing. It appears that someone who had puzzled over this decided that a slight alteration from PIANVS to PLANVS would at least produce a word to be found in any Latin dictionary, although unfortunately the words homo planus were completely meaningless in that language...It is likely that the alteration from I to L was made very soon after 1846 to allow at least thirty years for the freshly made cut to weather before Archdeacon Thomas saw it in 1884 and stated that it looked ancient. It can never be known who tried to correct the reading, but several local antiquaries were associated with the stone about that time. Sir Robert Williams Vaughan of Nannau, who had the stone set up in a new position with the letters WV scratched on it, would have been a likely person, but he died three years before Longueville Jones made his rubbing showing an I. John Lloyd of Cefnfaes, a house only seven miles from Pen-y-stryd, did not die until 1857. He was an attorney and educated man who excavated in the fort at Tomen-y-mur and collected the Roman inscribed stones from that site. He was said to have been an authority on the Bedd Porius inscription, and to have remembered it without the arabic numerals that are now lightly inscribed on the stone reading 1245 E.

W. W. E. Wynne of Peniarth (1801--80), who rescued the stone in the 1840s was too good a historian to have altered an inscription, and too good a Latin scholar to have thought of homo planus as a possible reading; but it was probably he who in Tywyn Church had an inscription put up in Lombardic lettering, which was so well done that in recent times it has been quoted as an original fourteenth-century text.

A well-known and keen local historian who lived nearest to Bedd Porius was Edward Davies, who stayed from 1822 to 1855 only a little over a mile away down the road farmhouse known as Rhwyddawr, but spelled on the Ordnance maps Erw-ddwfr. He was born in 1786 at Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant and well educated at several schools; during the above dates he was in charge of Chapels at Trawsfynydd, Pen-y-stryd, and Ganllwyd. He died at Trawsfynyyd [sic] in 1872 and was buried in the graveyard at Pen-y-stryd. The Sarn Helen crosses the land that he farmed at Rhwyddawr and close beside the road he had constructed a small bathing place, on the old Ordnance maps this was marked as BATH suggesting it was a Roman site'.

Gresham/1985, 386: `the lettering...can be read without any difficulty whatsoever'.
Carving errors:n