Carvings

Christmas Wreath

This beautiful Christmas wreath, is attached to very ancient wooden door, which stands in the corner of St Peter’s Church in Walpole St Peter, Norfolk.  If you look closely, you will see the delicate carving in the wood, which to me looks like the shape of some of the stain glass windows around the church.

Nereabolls/Nerabus Chapel and Carved Stones, Isley, Scotland

Last year 2016, we had a holiday on the Islands of Jura and Isley, off the west coast of Scotland.  Most of the time, the weather was bordering on being nice, but on the day we found the above sign, it had turn just a bit grey and dull.  I hadn’t read about this site, so it was a nice surprise, and also it was great to be the only explorer.   I could take my time and not have to worry about bodies, meaning of course live ones.

As I walked down the track, I wondered what I was going to find, it looked a little bit barren and quite small, but the name sounded interesting……. Nereabolls. Nerabolls is the name of the Hamlet, which is on the road from Port Charlotte to Portnahaven. I passed one stone enclosed burial ground, as I had seen a brown sign that looked very interesting. Very very interesting……’Ancient Burial Ground go Clan Donald’

Inside the fenced off area I found a collection of ancient grave slabs. Many of the slabs were discovered under a plot of turnips by a local farmer. The carved slabs have been cleaned and set on a gravel bed, covered by a protective glass cover to preserve them, but clear enough for visitors to study them.

I have changed all the tomb slabs to black & white, as the protective glass cover, plays havoc with the camera.

 

Several of the slabs are carved with foliated crosses, in the style of the Iona School 14th-15th century. another bears a sword blade and a pair of strange beasts that resemble a griffin and a lion. Another slab shows a galley with sail furled.   A small figure is shown climbing the rigging. Below the galley is a sword, with a lion and dragon figure fighting. Foliage issues from the dragon’s tail and transforms into an interlace pattern at the base.

The above stone could be ‘The Marigold Stone’, such symbols are frequently found in Ireland and most often dated to the 7th century, but they can’t be sure that is, but still a very interesting, carved with a circular pattern like a sunburst, with 16 radiating rays separated by grooves.

I made my way back to the remains of the chapel, which is thought locally to have been dedicated to St Columba and very probably dates to the 14th or 15th century. I had added the notice board, which tells you little more about the site.  The chapel site was traditionally owned by Clan Donald.  

 

 

 

Killmartin Grave Slabs, Scotland

The information board invites you to step into this burial aisle for a glimpse of the Gaelic warrior culture that dominated the West Highlands in the Middle Ages….. and so we did, last May 2016.  Kilmartin is a small village in Western Scotland, famous for Kilmartin Glen, where there are over 320 prehistoric monuments in a six mile radius.  But for me, the graveyard of the village church holds untold stories of buried Highlanders, which got my imagination working overtime.  These grave slabs were collected from the graveyard, but there are still more grave slabs to be seen.  There are also historic crosses inside the church and next door you will find a museum that will tell you the story of the Glen.  This post is to show the grave slabs, that now stand side by side.

A little history for you……..Originally, the 23 stones would have been laid flat on the ground to cover a grave. After the Reformation, however, many of the stones were moved, and in 1956 they were moved inside a shelter to protect them from the weather. The symbolism of the motifs carved onto the slabs is the subject of much discussion and speculation. Many feature swords or claymores, some alone, others with surrounding designs of twining or interlaced foliage. Several depict armed men. 

The structure was originally built as a burial aisle for Neil Campbell and his wife Christiane in 1627. Neil Campbell became Bishop of Argyll, while Christiane was the daughter of Bishop John Carswell, who built nearby Carnasserie Castle in the late 1660s. Since 1956 their mausoleum has served as a lapidarium, sheltering the best of the medieval graveslabs identified in the churchyard.

More about Kilmartin to follow.

 

Finlaggan Cross, Eileen Mòr, Isle of Islay, Scotland

 

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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.

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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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Roof Angels, St Nicholas’ Chapel, Kings Lynn, Norfolk

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If you look up in St Nicholas’ Chapel, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, the largest chapel in England, you will see some of the most beautifully craved angels in the chapel’s 15th century roof, that have greeted visitors for the last 600 years,  We dropped in a few weeks ago, well it was more like the chapel was open, and even if I have visited a trillion times, it would have to be a trillion and one times.  It’s such a beautiful building and the angels hold a total fascination for me, well all roof angels do.  So it was a quick point with camera and then back to shopping, and yes, the camera even comes shopping, well you never know….

What I like about these angels, are their shadows on the roof, some look like crosses, beautiful 🙂

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One holds a recorder – the earliest ever portrayal of the instrument in church carving.

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The angel below is holding tools, you can see large nails and a hammer.

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February 2017

Medieval Picnic Basket

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I thought I would do an odd post now and again of the lovely Medieval pew ends that I found in the Round Tower Church of St Peter & St Paul’s at Tuttington, Norfolk.

This is quite a strange one, unfortunately that lady has lost her lower arms, but just look at the design of her hair with some kind of coif, so Medieval.  Now I’m not sure what is going on here, but it seems that some kind of dogs are eating out of a basket, maybe the ladies picnic basket…..not sure if that has a religious theme about it.  In fact the more I look, it would seem like one dog and some bird like creature, it defiantly looks like a beak on the bottom of the two animals.  Just so interesting what you can find in these wonderful buildings.

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January 2017