Weighing a staggering 70 stone and standing at over 6ft tall, the inscribed stone was unearthed in 1843 by Harvey & Co. workmen atop “Plantation”, an historic Iron Age hillfort. Efforts to remove the stone from its resting place several feet underground broke it into four pieces. It was the cemented into a nearby wall alongside a slate plaque showing a translation, though we now know this to be inaccurate.
Throughout the following century, historians and archaeologists attempted to answer the question, “Who was Cunaide?”. Professor Charles Thomas CBE FSA (1928-2016), in particular, dedicated much of working life to decoding the inscription, dating it to the post-Roman period c. 450-475CE. He theorised that the stone was selected for a Christian burial because the natural veins of tourmaline and quartz at its top resemble a cross.
Many scholars also believe Cunaide was a woman of high status.
In 2017 Hayle Heritage Centre was granted Scheduled Monument Consent in order to preserve and protect the stone which had long been designated ‘at risk’ by Historic England. The stone was professionally conserved and underwent close-range laser scanning and photogrammetry to create a digital 3D model, in turn saving the inscription from being lost to deterioration.
This has and will allow new research but as of now so much remains unknown. Who do you think Cunaide was?