Belvoir Angel & Crusaders Tomb Slabs, Lismore, Scotland

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Just a couple of odd tomb stones that I can across on the Isle of Lismore, off the west coast of Scotland,  The first is of called a Belvoir Angel, I have only ever seen these as upright headstones, so this was a first for me.  I was really quite surprised to find one on Lismore.  I have seen plenty in New England, US and several here in the Norfolk and Lincolnshire, so this one was a special find for me.  I can only make out This stone is placed here by Arch Black Slate Quarrier, as to the rest of the words, I’m not really sure what they say.  I couldn’t make out a date, but this particular ‘naive’ design of an almost childish moon-like face flanked by triangular winged faces are known locally as ‘Belvoir Angels’ and were intended to depict the soul of the deceased ascending to heaven and normally from the 17th & 18th century.  ( I am not sure yet why they are called Belvoir, but I am sure I will find out 🙂



The second stone was in the Heritage Centre, as first I thought it was a copy, but its the real thing.  I found it interesting as one of the ideas about the design is that it was brought back by a Crusader.  So it is possible that this tomb slab, that was found in Lismore grave yard, was that of a Crusader…. just a thought.  I have added a close up of the details, for one thing I just love to see Scottish Gaelic in its written form and also love to hear it.



13 Replies to “Belvoir Angel & Crusaders Tomb Slabs, Lismore, Scotland”

  1. Beautiful pieces, Lynne! I didn’t realize we had stones like that here in the US. But I haven’t visited many East Coast graveyards. Those are a lot older than what we have in the Midwest. I like the sound of the Scottish Gaelic, too. Or even a Scottish accent! 🙂

    1. Thank you Pat. I found lots on the Islands we went to last year, Cape Cod, and lots in Boston, really where the settlers first landed and lived. I took hundreds of photos, I still have them to post. Some are really sad as many of the women died in child birth and illness, whole families… sad. Although in some old cemeteries, nearly all the headstones are worn away, with just an odd angel amongst them and you know that there would’ve been so many more, but wind with sea salt in it, is a very corrosive thing. But this one was the first tomb slab and not an up right headstone that I have seem. Also it makes you wonder if this headstone carver was a settler to the US, I know that some carvers came out from here, Norfolk, so he could have been. They are very fascinating, and there are quite a few different types, again the work of different carvers. All interesting stuff and I am not even going to start on the crusaders 🙂

  2. Interesting images. The ‘stave’ may represent a bishop’s crozier; just a theory of my own.

    Angels were certainly popular in the 1700s and into the 1800s. I’ve seen as many as seven on one headstone. Best one I ‘captured’ was from an old cemetery in Rostrevor, Co. Down. She appeared to be winking!!! I have it somewhere on Flickr.

    Crusaders . . . there’s a horizontal ‘grave slab’ in a place adjacent to JERPOINT ABBEY, Co. Kilkenny, which is supposed to be the burial place of the bones of St. Nicholas, brought back from Bari, Italy, where it was thought the Moors might arrive and damage them! ‘Grave Slabs’ appear to have been all horizontal originally, but most are now standing vertically for protection. I have a very old book somewhere with drawings of ‘grave slabs’ from all over Ireland and the U.K.

    1. Thank you, thats very interesting about St Nicholas. Yes lots of grave slabs are now vertical, but I have come across some that have been left in place, and covered by perspex, which is a good idea, but awful for taking photos. I would like to see the winking angel 🙂

  3. Very interesting, Lynne! I hadn’t heard of ‘Belvoir Angels’ either but I’m sure I have seen them often enough! I think the ‘Arch’ has a small ‘d’ after it, representing ‘Archibald’. Maybe ‘Laroch and Anne McColl’ afterwards? That is my humble contribution! I love the older one – what a fascinating possibility. Haha, I love Gaelic too! Sometimes switch over to the Alba channel just to hear them speaking it! 😀

    1. Thank you Jo, I was just amazed to find this one on Lismore, its the only one I have come across on the Islands, there might more, but this is the only one so far. I think you are right about the ‘d’, maybe when I go back I should do a brass rubbing effect, which should show up more details. There’s a wonderful music shop in Oban and we always stop by for me to buy a couple of cd’s of local Scottish musicians. I got a wonderful cd from a guy who was playing on Jura at the festival there, who sung in English and Gaelic, I like the Gaelic more 🙂

  4. Hi Lynne, We have met before, in Middlewich during the festival weekend, we met in the church, it was me that spoke to you and gave you the book. Since you gave me you website details I have been a constant visitor and have enjoyed your posts. I think I can help with this one, the stone reads:- This stone is placed here by Arch(d) Black Slate Quarrier, Laroch and Ann McColl, his spouse, in memory of children: Malcolm. Who died 12-11-1816 aged 10 days and Mary 22-3-1820 aged 6 months. Hope this helps.

    1. Hello John, so nice to hear from you and thank you again for showing me your wonderful church. I did wonder if you had found me, I haven’t got around to your church yet, still trying to finish Scotland 🙂
      Now to the stone, yes your info does help a lot, thank you for the translation, I’m trying to work out how you know what was on the stone, maybe you have had lots of practice reading them. Thats quite a sad one, but very interesting that the father was slate quarrier, I wonder if he carved the stone, copying it from one he had come across. Anyway, thank you for visiting and I hope you stay in touch. I will be using your gift of the book for hopefully a lovely post of your church in the near future , well…..before Christmas 🙂

      1. Hi Lynne, nothing magical, just putting the right info into google and have a good look. Look forward to your post on our church, till then there is so much to enjoy on your site. I’m so glad you enjoy my home country so much – great posts with wonderful images. Bless you

      2. Ha ha John, looked again and found the information, I didn’t think of family history sites. So glad you are enjoying my posts on your beautiful homeland, I love the west coast and islands, but to be fair, I enjoy the rest as well. To me its a photographers paradise…..still lots to come 🙂

  5. Hi – You were wondering about the name – Belvoir Angel? Belvoir does indeed mean ‘beautiful view’ but this refers to the Vale of Belvoir that straddles Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire, UK.
    However this is where the ‘true’ Belvoir Angel headstones are found numbering about 320-5. These are made of Swithland slate and carved locally between 1690 and 1760 but the masons are unknown. They are always rough hewn on the back apart from a very few with carving on both sides.
    The faces on the Belvoir Angel headstones tend to be more like that on my avatar (taken from a photo of a local headstone). There are no less than thirty-nine of these lovely headstones in our local churchyard, a few more than the twenty-five at Upper Broughton and, I think, thirty-four at Hickling, Notts.
    Question is: – is yours a Belvoir Angel? According to the majority of local historians round here the answer is ‘probably not’. However it is quite possible that those found in Scotland and the USA predate the TRUE Belvoir Angels of the Vale of Belvoir. It is also considered that only the very simple, naive faces are ‘true’ Belvoir Angels – faces that are more human-like are later developments of the genre.
    Now I have read of your visit to Upper Broughton I realise you have done more research about the Belvoir Angels but there are only about the number I mention above – the others are not.
    Keep hunting – the furthest from my village I have found (so far) is at Whitwick, Leics.
    Ann aka Belvoir Angel 🙂

    1. Thank you Ann, really interesting to read your reply. I just wondered if any of the stone masons left the area and took the design with them. Most of the ones which I called Belvoir, were made of some kind of slate. There are hundreds in the USA and all with in that date….have yet to post about them. Very interesting subject. Just out of interest we have a motorhome as well 🙂 Lynne

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