The Viking Hogback Stone of Luss, Loch Lomond, Scotland

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This is what I could remember seeing many years ago in Luss graveyard, although I had seen it before the stones restoration.  Now fully restored, you can see the wonderful markings on this ancient 11th century Viking Hogback Stone.  Hogbacks are stone carved Anglo-Scandinavian sculptures from 10th-12th century England.  This stone is thought to have dated from the Loch Lomond raid of 1263, when the Vikings had pillaged and settled on the lochside, maybe one Viking that stayed.  It was unearthed in 1926 and until very recently had been covered in moss, but now restored.  The solid stone blocks are not, as the name might suggest, representations of pigs but stones which are designed to make the tombs of the dead look like mighty buildings in the Norse style. The bow-sided shape of the hogbacks are similar to the classic Viking house and the interlace patterns on them are also very Scandinavian in origin, but this type of stone are only found here in Britain. They are not to be found in Scandinavia and also there’re none to be found before the Vikings came here.  It could be, as we were great carvers of stone, they saw this and emulated us.  Govan in Glasgow has a large number of hogbacks and various other ancient stones, the hogbacks are found exclusively in areas of Northern Britain settled by Vikings, Southern Scotland, Cumbria and Yorkshire.

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May 2016

25 Replies to “The Viking Hogback Stone of Luss, Loch Lomond, Scotland”

  1. That is an incredible grave marker. Glad they cleaned it up, the markings are quite interesting. Maybe they wanted to give their departed friend a memorial that would remind him of home. 🙂

    1. Thank you and there is no writing on the headstones, well, that you can read, as they are very worn, which is a shame. But I have some that I will post soon, that you can read them 🙂

  2. Great to see this, Lynne, especially as I haven’t yet seen it for myself. I remember looking up pics of it before it was restored, and it was gloriously covered with moss and lichen. I am sure the conservators have done a fabulous job but the romantic part of me prefers the ‘natural’ look! Interesting patterns around the base of it. It would be so good to know whose grave it covered and what his/her story is! Govan – although there were originally 45 stones many were lost when a shipyard was demolished next to the graveyard in the 1980s, and a lot of rubble spilled over the wall and damaged them. So I think there are only 5 hogback stones left, although there are lots of other stones like the Sun Stone and the Jordanhill Cross, and a stone sarcophagus.

    1. Yes that how I remember it all covered in moss, but I thought there were two, maybe it was somewhere else. It would be lovely to know all the history of people they covered, and why they were really shapped like they are. I really want to see the ones at Govan, and what a shame that most of them were damaged or lost, heartbreaking really. Although the other stones sound really interesting 🙂

  3. in Ireland there is one sarcophagus sometimes described as a hogback : it’s in the old church-yard of the church of St. James. Weirdly the doorway of an older Romanesque church is standing free in the churchyard also. There’s a round tower and two significant early Christian crosses there too. Check them out in any serious book on Irish High Crosses. While you’re in the Catledermot area, visit the Moone abbey and high cross. Well worth the trouble (take care parking on the corner!).
    Here are links for Castledermot (one showing a snow-photo!):

    https://www.archaeology.ie/monument-of-the-month/archive/castledermot-co-kildare
    http://www.buildingsofireland.ie/niah/search.jsp?type=record&county=KD&regno=11823019

    Can you confirm that there is only one hogback in Luss, Loch Lomond please?
    And what is your source for thinking that it is 12th century?
    If it is, what do you mean by saying that it dates from the 13th century Loch Lomond raid?

    1. Hello Michael,
      Thank you for the information. There is only one stone in Luss, and the age comes from the Luss website and they seem to think that the stone was reused in the 13th century. I was only really giving some information to go with my photos.
      Lynne

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