Kilmartin Church & Large Cross, Scotland

This is the last post on Kilmartin, Scotland 2016, for this year, hopefully we will return next year to visit the sites of a much earlier period than the stone crosses and churchyard of Kilmartin Church.   I have saved the best to last, well I think so, ‘The Large Cross’.  One of the most magnificent medieval stone crosses in the West Highlands.  Carved about 1200, on side is the robed Christ sitting with arms raised to show his wounds.  On the other side is the crucified Christ with a winged lion, symbol of St Mark, to his left, and angel for St Matthew above and a winged bull for St Luke below.

 

 

Taken from one of the notice boards……..This cross is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent of the great crosses carved in the Western Highlands in the Middle Ages.  Its form is unusual for the area, and the quadrant brackets which originally helped to support the widely projecting arms must have given it something of the appearance of a wheel-headed cross.  Until recent years only the shaft and side arm were known to survive, but in 1973 the upper arm was found built into a culvert.  The three pieces have been secured together in what is thought to have their correct relationship, with out attempting to replace the missing parts for which there is no evidence.

The cross originally stood 400 metres away, but was later moved to the Kilmartin graveyard.  The arm which was found in the culvert, was fixed back when the cross was brought inside.

The following photos are from a display inside the church.

The shaft and arm of the cross in the graveyard of Kilmartin Church.

The top arm of the cross replaced back onto the shaft.

The reserve side of the cross, once the top arm was fixed back to the shaft.

A little history on Kilmartin Parish Church………..On the site of earlier churches, the present building opened in 1835. The architect was James Gordon Davis. The church is Gothic in style with nave, aisles and a square tower. Three interesting memorial panels from the 18th and 19th centuries to members of the family of Campbell of Duntroon. The church has two outstanding early Christian crosses, with explanatory panels provided by Historic Scotland. The kirkyard contains the mausoleum of Bishop Neil Campbell and medieval tomb slabs. Extensive views over Bronze Age burial cairns, a photo shows one at the bottom of the page.

 

 

 

 

The Small Cross, Kilmartin, Scotland

Inside Kilmartin Church, Kilmartin, Scotland, there are three medieval crosses.  The Kilmartin Cross which I have posted about and two others, the Large Ring Cross and the Small Cross.  This post is about the Small Cross which stood in the graveyard from about the 1400’s.  Its style matches that of another cross, The Kilmichael Cross, which is displayed in the Kilmartin Museum next door. (I have also posted about this one)

The photo shows the cross in the churchyard where it had stood since 1400.  This fragment of cross is unusual in the curious volute forms which have been carved as angle brackets to support the side arms.  The representation of the crucified figure is perhaps rather stiff an crude, and does look very similar to the Kilmichael Cross.  Dating from the 1300’s or 1400’s it could be attributed to a group of stone carvers working in the area around Loch Awe.  All three cross stood in the graveyard, but have since been brought into the church to protect them from the elements.  A post on the Large Cross will follow shortly.

From a visit in 2016

Kilmartin Museum, Kilmartin, Scotland

After we had visited Kilmartin Churchyard and Church, Scotland (I have yet to post) in 2016, we visited the Museum.  The Museum collects and cares for all of the archaeological objects that are found, by chance or excavation in Mid Argyll.   This is really only a taste of what is in the museum, as we were running out of time, but there are a few interesting items that I found.  A little bit about Kilmartin before we go any further …..Kilmartin Glen, in the heart of Mid Argyll, is one of Scotland’s richest prehistoric landscapes. Over 800 historic monuments, cairns, standing stones, stone circles and rock art dating back over 5000 years have been recorded within this area. It just helps to understand why the museum is there.  So the following is just a short trip around the museum.

The above is a copy and the original is in the National Museums of Scotland.  A Carved Slab, Neither Largie North Cairn 4,000 – 1.600 BC….. People may have carved this simple design long before the slab was incorporated into Nether Largie North Cairn.  The below photo from the museum, shows how it was found in 1930, standing upright on the ground surface with the cairn material.

The above stone is again a copy of the Stone Cross, Achadh na Cille, Oibmore, Knapdale 8th-10th centuryAD, which is now in the Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum.  One of seven crosses from this site, three of which are still inlace.  It is not possible to give an exact date for the cross, but the earliest ringed crosses are 8th century.  The early Christian crosses from Mid Argyll vary greatly in style.  The first crosses may have been of wood, or even wattle.  The photo show the front and back view of the cross.

This last photo show a carved limestone cross fragment from Kilbride and this is the original article.  It was found at the thirteenth century chapel of Kilbride, the church of  St Brigit, now a derelict building near Kilmartin.  The cross fragment dates to the 9th century, which indicates there was already an ecclesiastical presence on the site when the chapel was constructed.  The spirals and voluted trumpets of the carving are a common theme in early Christian sculpture.

The above photo was just a quick photo of the cottages across the road from the museum, and generally is of the type of buildings in the village as a whole.

May 2016 – Kilmartin

 

 

The Antiquity of Kilmartin Churchyard, Scotland

 

Kilmartin Parish Church stands in the centre of  Kilmartin Glen, and just south down the glen, are a profusion of prehistoric remains, including a linear cemetery, numerous standing stones, and several sites with cup and ring carved rocks.  But for me, it was the graveyard and church that lured me in to explore this ancient site.   You can see the church from the road, and in 2014 we didn’t have time to visit, but in May of 2016, we did.  You know when you see sometime, and you hold your breath, think wow, this is going to be amazing, thats what I felt when we walked through the arch to explore.

I have already posted about some of the stones, those thought to be most at risk from weathering, under cover of a former mausoleum building at the rear of the churchyard, this post is of what is still in situ in the graveyard.

Together with the sub-circular form of the church graveyard, the stones hint at a much longer history of religious activity at Kilmartin, ranging in date from the 900’s to the 1600’s. 

 

 

 I think most of the mediaeval grave slabs in the raised enclosure, photos above, beautifully carved slabs that once covered the graves of members of the Malcolm family, are from St Columba’s Chapel in Poltalloch, which have been move to Kilmartin.  Many of the stones were the work of a group of sculptors working in the Loch Awe area through the 14th and 15th centuries.  The carvers may have had a workshop at Kilmartin itself or in the surrounding area.  The quality of the carvings of the highest order, and the designs are similar to others in the West Highlands, such as Kilberry, Keills, and Kilmory Knap.

I found an early Christian Stone with a cross very similar to the one I found on Tiree, a Hebridean Island, but as yet I haven’t found any information on it.

The above slabs are still in situ and have wonderful symbols on them.

I will post about the museum, church and the two remain stone crosses later.  It is worth a visit before going off down the Glen to visit the more well known sites.  

Lochgilphead War Memorial & Celtic Cross, Loch Fyne, Scotland

We have passed through Lochgilphead, on Loch Fyne, Scotland, quite a few times and I always wonder about the cross at the end of the road, in the above photo you can see it in the distance.  The celtic cross always looks older to me, but it would seem it was erected in 1921.  Although the celtic cross is not of a great age, its still interesting to learn the history and in May 2016, I managed to take some photos from the car as we were passing by.

Some history………The Lochgilphead war memorial is a square pedestal of unusual design with decorative medallions carved with celtic designs and battle honours on the four faces at the upper corners. The pedestal stands on a low circular stepped base and is surmounted by a rustic celtic cross carved in freestone with boss and wheel-head. The commemoration and names of the WWI dead are listed on a bronze panel set into the face of the pedestal. The commemoration and names of the WWII dead are carried on two smaller bronze panels set into the face of two low stone pillars which flank the pedestal.
The monument stands at the junction at the head of the main street, on the sea front overlooking Loch Fyne.
The monument was erected by Glasgow monumental sculptors Messrs. Scott Rae, the daybook entry reads:
Order No. 5805, Lochgilphead, Grey cross, Erected May 1921.

Kerrera Northspit Lighthouse, Nr Oban, Scotland

I found another lighthouse while sorting out my photos, it is not the classic shape of a lighthouse, but I love the location and it’s red and white stripes.  The date is unknown but it is located at the end of a rocky reef at the north end of the Isle of Kerrera, marking the entrance to the sheltered harbor of Oban.

Photo taken May 2016 for my ‘Lighthouse Category’