Inscribed Stone at Yealmpton, Devonshire

Described and discussed in:

James Sargant Storer. (1808). Antiquarian and Topographical Cabinet containing a series of elegant views of the most interesting objects of curiosity in Great Britain accompanied with letter press descriptions. Volume IV, London: Published for the Proprietors by W Clarke, J Carpenter, and Sherwood, Neeley & Jones. Unpaginated.

Provided by Michael Steer

This Heritage Listed monument is possibly a 3rd century tombstone. It is inscribed on the east face: 'GOREUS' and is thought to be a memorial to an early British chieftain. It formerly lay in a position in the churchyard and was moved to the present position in 1851. James Sargant Storer (1771-1853) was an engraver, draughtsman and topographer. His principal work consisted of illustrative studies of the cathedrals and medieval buildings of England.. He died in London in 1853. This rare book was produced from a digital copy held by the Societé de Geographie de Lyon's Library that can be downloaded from Google Books. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. Those on which copyright has expired are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

The Yealmpton Stone, which has been noticed by several antiquaries, is supposed by Mr Polwhele, the historian of Devonshire to be inscribed to the memory of a christianised Roman, of the name of TOREUS, who was here interred.

This Stone grows gradually less towards the upper part, and is left in a very rough state for near a foot at the lower extremity, as if it had been intended for insertion into the ground; its length is nine feet, varying considerably in its thickness; it lies east and west.

Mr Polwhele compares this stone with one at St Clements, and concludes from their inscriptions that they commemorate father and son; there is certainly a most singular resemblance between them. He observes that if at full length, the words on the St Clement's stone "would be these-


There is not the least deviation from the Roman capitals, except that the under dexter stroke of the R in TORRICI is too short and too horizontal.

There is another very good reason for the great antiquity of this inscription, which is, that here are two names of the person interred; a thing so common among the Romans, and so seldom met with during their empire in the monuments of other nations, that where the character concurs, it may be looked upon as a decisive criterion of a Roman inscription; but this is still more confirmed by the word VITALIS, which is actually a Roman name; so that ISNIOC, the prenomen, is British and VITALIS, the cognomen is Roman.

In my apprehension, these pillars, considered at one view, bring light out of darkness; in collision they emit sparks that enlighten the whole region around them.

The Yealmpton Stone is inscribed to the memory of TOREVS; and TOREVS was, I plainly think, a Roman. What indeed is more probably than that TOREVS was the same person as TORRICVS? VITALIS then, the son of TORRICVS or TOREVS, is buried at St Clements where a Christian church had been formed out of a pagan temple, or erected on the site of it; and TOREVS the father of VITALIS, was buried at Yealmpton, near a church of a similar description."