The Thief’s Cross, Kildalton, Isle of Islay, Scotland

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We had a little rest from visiting distilleries on Islay, well I did, husband would have kept going, but I wanted to visit Kildalton, which is not that far from the distilleries we were visiting on the south coast of Islay, in May 2016.  I had read about the wonderful Great Cross of Kildalton and the old parish church full of the most marvellous tomb slabs, and how I actually visited three distilleries before I got there, is a wonder all of is own.  When we arrived, after driving on one of the most beautiful roads on the island, I was out of the car like a shot.  As I turned to look at the view, I saw a cross on its own, a little further up the hill, with a rusty old fence around it.  As we were the only ones on the site, I thought I had better take photos of the main site before any coaches turned up, which unfortunately they tend to do.  I was right, just as I finished, two coaches arrived and out tumbled vast amounts of sightseers.  I then walked up the hill and studied the cross, much smaller than the main cross, but still carved, not as old as the main one, but still, maybe 15th century, although there was nothing to inform me.  I took some photos and then we were back on the distillery hunt.

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I have now found out, that this late medieval cross has two names, ‘The Kildalton Small Cross’ and ‘The Thief’s Cross’  The reason for the second name, as the cross is outside of the churchyard on non-consecrated ground, a story has evolved that it’s the grave of a criminal.  More likely it was erected by a wealthy Lord as a private shrine in about the 1300 to 1400’s.  It might not be anywhere near the age of the Great Cross, but there was just thing about it, almost as if it was standing, guarding the larger cross.

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8 comments

  1. Love this, Lynne! Kildalton is such a very special place, one of my favourite places in the whole world. There’s something about that little neck of Islay, past all those distilleries and lovely little beaches. Fab photos of the cross as well. Makes me want to go back there! 🙂

    1. Thank you Jo, there is more to come. I have been thinking all day for a word to describe the area and I think is the remoteness of the place. Driving through those gnarled old woods and then you arrive….. I think I agree with you, its a very special place 🙂

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