In June of 1887, when the church of 1813 was demolished, it was found that one of the stones contained a strange inscription. Canon Dallow, chaplin at Upton Hall Convent and local historian, went to see the stone, he discovered that the carvings where in fact Saxon Runes.
The piece of sandstone was about 21 inches long by 10 inches high and 9 inches thick. On the upper side was an interlaced ribbon pattern, the runic inscription was carefully cut in two rows, divided by a line, and was clearly incomplete, as the stone was broken off at the right hand side. Judging from the carved pattern, the inscription had lost at least four or five letters.
The stone was the first inscribed with runes to be found in Cheshire and has been attributed by archæologists to the seventh or eighth centuries. The runic characters have been deciphered to read:
FOLCÆ ARÆRDON BECUN .... GEBIDDATH FOTE ÆTHELMUND
which may be translated into:
THE PEOPLE ERECTED A MEMORIAL ... PRAY FOR ÆTHELMUND
Overchurch Runic Stone
The stone is an ancient "Bidding-stone" asking a prayer of the passer-by for the soul of some Saxon warrior or priest who lay buried underneath.
By reference to the history of the period, there is reason to believe that Æthelmund was a Saxon soldier or officer who could have been killed about the year 625.
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