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Painted Anglo-Saxon Inscription : Breamore, Hampshire (‡Winchester) 979-1016

Click here for the Saxon Rood and the Suicide of Judas, both also at Breamore

Breamore, Anglo-Saxon inscription [40KB]

The Saxon church at Breamore in Hampshire was built in around 980CE and the arch shown here is over the entrance to the south transept (strictly speaking a ‘porticus’ rather than a fully developed transept). It bears an Anglo-Saxon inscription, incised in the stone and painted in red ochre, which reads “HER SWUTELATH SEO GECWYDRAEDNES THE”. This translates as “Here the covenant [the word] is manifested to thee”. There is another stone preserved in the wall bearing the letters “DES” suggesting that there was possibly more of the sentence elsewhere, over corresponding arches now destroyed. It seems to be a quotation from, or close reference to Titus 1:3, a Pauline Epistle concentrating on the Divine Order ordained by God for the churches and the importance of identifying true preachers and sound doctrine.
According to the leaflet in the church, the form of the letters here places the inscription sometime in the latter part of the reign of Ethelred 11 (the ‘redeless’ or Unready) who became king on the death of his brother Edward the Martyr in 978 and reigned until 1016.

The red ochre paint will almost certainly have been renewed at some point since then, at least in part (although the more faded areas may be exactly as the painter left them), but there is no doubt about the authenticity of the inscription. This, along with the Saxon Rood and its painted background, and the painting of the Suicide of Judas (a rare subject whatever its age) at Breamore, is a very remarkable survival . There is also some very obscure painting on the wall behind the high altar, but that is probably 13th or 14th century.

Website for St Mary’s, Breamore

Purgatorial Ladder, with the Seven Deadly Sins, Chaldon, Surrey
Passion Cycle, Ickleton, Cambs Painted Anglo-Saxon Inscription, Breamore, Hampshire Painted Rood (Crucifixion), Breamore Hampshire Suicide of Judas (later), Breamore, Hampshire Judgement with Apostles, Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk
Allegorical Joust, Claverley, Shropshire David overcoming the Lion/(repainted) Knight representing a Virtue, Copford, Essex Raising of Jairus’s daughter, Copford, Essex Martyrdom of S.Edmund & other subjects, Fritton, Norfolk Apostle or Prophet, Little Easton, Essex
Christ in Majesty, Kempley, Gloucestershire The Three Marys (Maries) at the sepulchre, Kempley, Gloucestershire The Fall & its Aftermath, Hardham, Sussex Life of St. James, Stoke Orchard, Gloucestershire Apostles & angels supporting Christ in Majesty, West Chiltington, Sussex
St. Martin dividing his cloak, Wareham, Dorset Christ in Majesty, with Judgement details, Clayton, Sussex King Herod & an attendant, and the Flight into Egypt, Coombes, Sussex Christ in Majesty, with Traditio Legis & and illusionistic painted figure, Coombes, Sussex Two scenes from the Life of St. Cuthbert-Pittington, Durham NEW

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Anne Marshall 2002