Northampton Medieval Jewish Tombstone

Contributed by Northampton Museums Service

Northampton Medieval Jewish Tombstone

This tombstone is the only surviving example of a medieval Jewish Tombstone in England and one of only two surviving medieval Jewish inscriptions in this country. It was originally dug up in the 19th Century. In 1992 Marcus Roberts was able to identify the item as a unique 13th Century medieval Jewish tombstone, from the (then) lost Northampton Jewish cemetery, in the style of Jewish tombstones from the Rhineland. Later that year the cemetery site was relocated at Temple Bar off the Barrack Road.

The tombstone stone is a fragment of the original tombstone and dates from c.1259 - 1290. It is made of Barnack stone (a very high quality calcareous limestone), from the famous Barnack quarry, near Stamford. The inscription is incomplete, but appears to be to a Northampton Jewish scholar and rabbi and is evidence for the existence of a Jewish academy in Northampton. It probably reads, 'This is the tombstone to the devout and learned Rabbi Solomon (?), Son of Moses (?). It is also evidence for a German Jewish influence in Northampton.

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