Some intriguing pieces of stone work were discovered during recent renovation work at St. Mary’s Church in Cilcain, when stone was removed from the Church wall to carry out repairs to the crack which had developed above the South window in the chancel.
There are several pieces of very early medieval tomb stones which have been on display at the back of the church. One of these pieces was headless and thus there is no doubt that this newly found piece is the missing head – you can see the two pieces married together in the left hand picture below. The piece of stone on the right which has the sheep shears incised on it looks most likely to have been part of a tomb stone.
It is uncertain when these stones were used as building material; they could possibly have been used when previous repairs were made to the exterior of the wall, or when the south aisle of the church was built in the late 14th or 15th century. Other old pieces of early medieval stone were found when the church was restored in the late 19th century by Douglas the Chester architect.
These stones had also been used as door lintels or in other ways in the fabric of the church. The remains of a water stoup, or font, were found below the pulpit which had been on the South side of the church.
St. Mary’s has now re-opened following the repair work and the various pieces of recovered stone work can be seen at the back of the Church.