Celtic Crosses

A few of the wonderful crosses that I come across.

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

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.

Kilmartin Cross, Kilmartin Church, Scotland

Inside the parish church of Kilmartin, Scotland, which we visited in May 2016, there are three wonderful ancient stone crosses, this post is about the early Christian cross called ‘ The Kilmartin Cross’, which was created in about AD 900.  It has short cross-arms and is intricately carved with a diagonal key pattern.  At its centre is an unusual curled diagonal cross, with almond-shaped frames above and below.  The cross was found laying in the churchyard in 1860, with one of the arms snapped off.  The cross was re-erected near the entrance and was brought inside in 1977.  There is a black and white photo of the cross when it was standing near the entrance to the church.  Also there is a front and back to the cross, as according to the information board below, one side was later decorated to fit the broken shape, as you can see in the photo following the information board.   The next post will be about ‘The Large Cross’.

 

Finlaggan Cross, Eileen Mòr, Isle of Islay, Scotland

 

dsc_0527-1

In between looking at distilleries on the Isle of Islay, Scotland, May 2016, I did manage to visit a few interesting sites and a visit to Finlaggan was a must.  Finlaggan is a historic site on Eilean Mòr in Loch Finlaggan, this was home to the Lords of the Isles.  A small island that you walk across a wooden causeway, to explore the ruins and some fine tomb slabs.  But that post is for later, when we were there, we visited the Finlaggan Visitor Centre, which is full of interesting items.  I had just taken a couple of photos and then suddenly, I saw a very large sign….No Photos Allow…oh well, I did stop, but I hate waste, so I will use the couple that I took…..  The information board will tell you about the cross, I think they were very lucky to find it, but it would have been amazing to see it in situ, maybe they should make a copy, but I suppose that would cost too much money.

dsc_0528

dsc_0473

The Kildalton High Cross, Isle of Islay, Scotland

 

dsc_0348

After I had taken my photos of the Thief’s Cross at Kildalton, Islay, in May 2016, which was just a little further up the hill, we made our way back down into Kildalton graveyard.  Then I stood in front of the most beautiful cross that I had ever seen.  The information board tells us…..The Kildalton High Cross was carved about 1,300 years ago, one of the finest and the most complete early Christian crosses in Scotland.  

dsc_0306-1

dsc_0302

The stone was carved towards the end of the 700’s and is more than likely from the same artists who carved the great crosses on the Isle of Iona.

dsc_0303

The cross is still standing where it was first erected more than 1,300 years ago, making it one of very few early Christian crosses still in their original positions.

The shaft depicts a series of Bible scenes.

dsc_0312

The above photo is my favourite part of the cross, it is the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus, flanked by two angels.

dsc_0310

dsc_0317

In one of the photos you can see my husband putting money on the plinth of the cross, not sure why there was a pile of money on the plinth, but thought it might be best to add to the pile, just incase, you know for luck etc.  There is one more post to come on Kildalton, the wonderful tomb slabs and the ruins of the church.

dsc_0320

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

dsc_0368

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.

dsc_0370

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.

dsc_0365 

dsc_0369

dsc_0366