|Discovery:||arch excav, 1985 Bardel, J.-P.|
|History:||Davies et al/2000, 290--91: `Burials have been noted in and around the bourg of Visseiche since the 19th century, particularly to the south of the parish church, in the presbytery garden and south of the village, on the north side of the main road. In 1985 the local council decided to construct a sports field south of the bourg, between it, the river, and the 19th-century cemetery; burials and cist-graves quickly became evident once work started and ultimately 78 burials were excavated by SRAB, as well as hearths and ditches. |
These included 14 dug graves, 19 limestone sarcophagi, 45 slate cist-graves, and possibly the remains of a wooden coffin. Grave 33 was much larger than the others, being a compact group of four cist graves; in plan the cover, consisting of four slate slabs, measured 198cm x 202cm. Underneath the cover were discovered two inscribed pieces of slate, one of which was face down and the other is reported to have been an internal partition, i.e. the side panel of one of the four aligned graves.
The stones were examined by members of the CISP team in May 1997 and June 1999, and the site was visited at the latter date.'
|Geology:||Davies et al/2000, 291: `slate'.|
|Dimensions:||1.61 x 0.48 x 0.03 (Davies/etal/2000)|
Davies et al/2000, 290: `Vitré Museum'.
|Condition:||incomplete , good|
Davies et al/2000, 292: `Both fragments have suffered damage, the smaller to a greater extent.
(1) The larger fragment of slate is now of irregular shape and measures 48cm wide at the left (sub-rectangular) edge by 92cm maximum surviving length and is from 3.5cm to 2cm thick.
(2) The second fragment is much more irregular, measuring 15cm by 59.5cm maximum and 1.6cm thick'.
Davies et al/2000, 293: `The scratched Latin cross has descending terminals, approximately 1cm long, on the transverse arms; a shallower short line, parallel with these upper arms, bisects the shaft approximately 1cm from the bottom.'
|Bardel, J.-P. (1989):||GENNOVEUSHIC[--]
saw second fragment as second inscription
GENNOVEUS HIC [--]
Guigon/1994 61 reading only
Guigon/Bardel/1989 335 reading only
|Davies, W. et al. (1999):||+GENNOVEVSHIC[R][.]QVIISCIT|
+ GENNOVEUS HIC R[E]QUIISCIT
+ Gennoveus(PN) here rests.
Davies/etal/2000 294 reading only
|Position:||n/a ; broad ; beside cross ; undivided|
Davies et al/2000, 292--93: `The first inscription consists of a single line of letters, preceded by a cross, and measures 39cm long (including the cross). … The second inscription is 14cm long'.
Davies et al/2000, 292--93: `The line of letters slopes down to the right. The carving was carried out by deeply scoring the slate many times, leaving sharp angles; several overshoots are visible, especially at the bottom curve of the S'.
|Date:||550 - 699 (Davies/etal/2000)|
Davies et al/2000, 297: `Associated artefacts in the graves were dated to the 7th century, as was usage of the cemetery as a whole … in view of this, and of the letter forms, it seems more likely that the inscription was made in the 7th century, although it clearly could have been made in the late 6th'.
|Palaeography:||Davies et al/2000, 294--95: `The inscription is largely in capitals, with two half-uncial letters. The majority of the letter-forms are perfectly standard capitals, such as the angular Vs, the Is and the T. Other letters diverge from this, such as the initial G, made of a series of angled strokes and one curved stroke. This letter form is otherwise unknown in Brittany, but common elsewhere in France and the Rhineland. The two Es have ascenders that extend above and below the cross strokes, while in the two Ns the ascenders are close together, giving them a narrow aspect. The ascenders of the H are of uneven length. The first letter of the second piece of stone is a minuscule Q with a down-stroke cut short by fracturing and an open-topped bow. A partial parallel for this may be found from Saint-Michel-en-Grève [SMGRV], where the P may have an open-topped bow. The two examples of C and S are different from each other - a characteristic found in other inscriptions of this corpus...The first C is rounded, the second extremely open, while the first S is majuscule and the second half-uncial. Like the G, the majuscule S consists of a series of joined straight strokes and one curved stroke, this time forming the bottom of the letter. A similar form of S, where the lower bow is smaller than the one above, is known from Bais [BAIS/4/]. |
The lettering is largely in capitals, but with some half-uncial, and this combined with the form of the initial G suggests that the carving was done in the 6th or 7th century.'
The letters that survive, except for the final one, are clear and in good condition.
Still confining the comparison to the first syllable, the Indo-European root g'en- 'to be born' is very common in Celtic names, e.g., OB Anau-gen, Hoiarn-gen, etc. But to have Genn- in initial position with double -nn- is less usual, although OB commonly writes double -nn- as single, as in, e.g. Ran for Rann and uuin for uuinn, which suggests that some parallels may have been lost. That said, nonetheless the unique form Gennai occurs (CR no. 75); it is not impossible that Gennoueus is an older, Latinized, spelling of this same name. With these, compare also Genaius from Mawgan, Cornwall [MAWGN/1]. Forms with double -nn- occur in Gaulish: thus, Adgennia, Adgennius, Adgennorix. Congenniccus occurs in both Britain and Narbonensis. It is not certain that the elements gen- and genn- are related in all instances. However, in Gennoueus and Gennai the doubling could be a feature of the formation of hypocoristics (pet names), thus based on an original compound in Geno-.
As Gregory of Tours also shows, St Geneviève (Genouefa or Genoueua) had been revered in Paris from the time of Clovis (DLH iv.1). If the double -nn- is not phonologically meaningful, Gen[n]oueus could be a masculine form of Genoueua, possibly reflecting the westward spread of the cult in Merovingian times. Geneviève herself is traditionally regarded as a 5th-century Gallo-Roman from Nanterre (Nemetodurus) near Paris. Hagiography represents her as a follower of Germanus of Auxerre and the daughter of a Severus and a Gerontia, the latter name having British affinities. The name Genoueua was therefore presumably also of Roman or Celtic origin. Again, assuming a correctly single -n-, Latin or Romano-Celtic Gen