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The Guisborough monument was composed of six slabs of carboniferous limestone, often called blue marble; it is of hard and close grain and well adapted to be worked with minute details, while it suffers but little from weathering or disintegration. The method of construction is shown by the plan. The slabs forming the base, the sides, and the cover, are of great size and thickness. The base slab lies in the floor of the chancel near the south wall and to the west of the chancel door. It appears to have been reduced in size, and as it is now partly covered by modern seats its original dimensions can only be arrived at by comparing it with the other parts of the tomb when put together. The whole of the central area of the slab was sunk to the depth of half an inch, and this area is only roughly tooled over. The margin, four and a quarter inches wide, round the four sides shows that the original length of the slab was nine feet nine inches, and its original breadth four feet six inches.
Its thickness cannot now be determined, and that shown on the drawings is merely assumed. In the portion which can be seen are two holes eight inches from the edge, and three feet three and a half inches apart. These have contained dowels for holding the side slabs in position.
The top or covering slab is now used as the top of the communion table, but there can be no doubt that this is not its original office, and that it is really part of the cenotaph. Its general form is shown on the drawings, but it should be explained that the absolute proof of its former use is in the appearance of its under surface. The slab is nine feet and five-eighths of an inch long, and three feet eight and threequarters of an inch wide. The thickness of the moulded portion is nine inches, while that of the part left rough in the centre of the underside is eleven and a quarter inches. The thicker rough portion is equal in length and breadth to the internal void of the cenotaph when the various slabs are put together. Furthermore, it is moulded all round, which it would not have been had it been made for an altar-slab, and also the moulding agrees with that shown in Dugdale's plate.
The two side slabs are now fixed one on either side. of the church porch, which is formed in the base of the tower at its western end. They are fully shown on the accompanying plates, from which it will be seen that they
are ornamented by a series of shallow niches, which have plain mouldings and trefoil heads. There are five niches on each side, and between them are in both cases four lesser niches, much narrower and lower than the main niches, and having their heads formed by a semicircular moulding below which is trefoil cusping, and above a straight moulding or transom. Above each of the smaller niches is a shield of the square pointed form. The larger niches contain statuettes of knights clad in armour. These will be individually described in detail hereafter, but we may say here that all the figures face outwards full front, though in four cases the heads are turned a little to the right or left. One series of figures represents the Bruces of the Scotch or Annandale branch of the family, viz., that now fixed on the north side of the porch; the other, now fixed on the south side of the porch, representing the English Bruces of the Skelton line. The English knights hold their shields of arms with both hands on their breasts, which shields are shown of the full size as worn. The Scotch knights, on the contrary, carry diminutive and merely heraldic shields on their left arms. The total thickness of the side slabs is eleven inches. The niches are recessed to the extent of one and a half in the smaller niches, and two and a half inches in the larger niches, on the south side of the porch, and to two and a quarter in the smaller niches and three and an eighth inches in the larger niches on the north side of the porch. This gives greater prominence and roundness to the figures of the Scotch knights over those of the English branch. The small niches between the English knights are filled with figures of the four great doctors of the Latin ChurchSt. Augustine, St. Gregory, St. Jerome and St. Ambrose. They stand on pedestals which are of semi-octagonal form, and are made to represent carved capitals of a very peculiar form; the four shields above the small niches on the same side display (1) a lion rampant debruised by a bend, (2) a mitre transfixed by a crozier turned to the dexter, (3) a cock facing the dexter standing on a reel, and (4) a falcon, or an eagle, with wings displayed, facing the dexter and holding in its claws a gimmel ring. The spandrels between the shields and the heads of the niches are ten in number. That now at the east end is covered by a door-frame, while that at the opposite end is gone as the slab is broken away
at this place. The others contain, (1) the full moon and a star, (2) the sun in splendour, (3) a paten, (4) a chalice, (5) a pilgrim's shell, (6), (7) and (8) scrolls.
The small niches between the figures of the Scotch knights now on the north side of the porch are statuettes representing the four Evangelists, and on the shields above them are their well-known symbols. The order, beginning at the east end, is the winged human figure or angel for St. Matthew, the lion for St. Mark, the bull for St. Luke, and the eagle for St. John. There are ten spandrels on this side, which contain, reading the same way, (1) a shield on which are three objects similar to castles, but which we may conclude are meant for dice-boxes, as shown amongst the emblems of the Passion, (2) a man, (3) a man, (4) the Sacred foot, (5) the Sacred hand with an awl piercing the palm, (6) a purse or bag of money, (7) lost by a piece of stone being broken off, (8) a chalice, (9) a lantern (?) (10) the cock on a reel. Nos. (2) and (3) seem to be meant for attendant angels, but the carving is somewhat obscure. Small scrolls fill up the vacant corners of the spandrels.
The backs of all the niches in which the knights stand are decorated with blind tracery not deeply cut. The lower panels on the English side are a little more ornate than on the other. There are carved flowers at the points of
The two end slabs were not both of the same size. The plan shows how they were fitted to the side slabs. As the monument originally stood in the Priory Church, probably between two columns in the choir, the lost end was facing to the west. The drawing in Dugdale's Monasticon is now the only record of this. It shows the figure of a king standing and attired in a long robe and a cloak thrown back over the shoulders. He wears a crown, and his right hand holds a
5 These symbols were differently attributed in early times to what they are On the embroideries of the apparel of Archbishop Hubert Walter in Canterbury Cathedral, the bull is given to St. Mark and the lion to St. Luke (Vetusta Monumenta, vol. vii., Parts 3 and 4, Plate iv.)
6 Both dice-boxes and pomade pots are amongst the emblems of the Passion, and three dice were used in the middle ages.
On the finely-carved chest of the fifteenth century at Coity, in Glamorganshire, are represented all the emblems of the Passion. Amongst them are three very similar objects to those on the above shield, and which clearly represent diceboxes. There are three dice shown on the altar-piece of Prior Leschman's Chantry in Hexham Abbey. See Carter's drawings in Add. MSS. Brit. Mus. 2993329945.
sceptre, while his left supports a shield on which is represented the Royal arms of Scotland, a lion rampant within a tressure. He is supported on either side by smaller figures wearing crowns but clad in armour. Judging by analogy it may be assumed that these are meant to represent the sons of the king alluded to in the larger figure. As the two side slabs make up part of this end, to the extent of seven and five eighths of an inch in each case, some details of this subject would have been available, but unfortunately in the case of the slab now on the south side of the porch the stone is defective on this point, a large piece being broken away, which has carried with it the upper part of the figure of one of the knights and all that there was of the end. In the other case, the return remains, but is so closely built into the wall of the porch that little can be seen of it, even when the boarding is removed. The upper part has some well-cut blind tracery, and below this, a portion at least of one of the small figures no doubt remains.
The opposite end, that which faced towards the east in the original position of the tomb, is now preserved under cover in the ruins of the Priory. Its architectural treatment is varied from that of the sides. Three niches with trefoil heads were thrown into one by the division between them being made into small corbels. At the original northeast angle the end overlapped the side, but at the other angle the original south side overlapped the angle, as seen by the plan. In consequence of this, a portion of the carving of the east end of the tomb is on the end of the slab now on the north side of the porch, but it cannot be seen as it is built up behind the frame of the door between the porch and the nave, which would have to be taken down before it could be examined. In the three spandrels of the arcade which come on the portion of the end which is in the Priory, that on the left contains a figure bearing a staff which may represent a pilgrim, but it is much weathered and partly defaced. The central spandrel contains the Virgin as Queen of Heaven, crowned, with Our Lord in her arms and surrounded by rays of glory. The right hand spandrel contains the cock
7 If, as seems most likely, the figure represents King Robert Bruce, may not these smaller figures be intended for his father and grandfather, the latter known
as the competitor, who though not de facto, would in the eyes of their descendants be de jure kings of Scotland.