Carvings

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

Medieval Elephant

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I was going to stay at home today and rest in the hopes of getting rid of my now constant companion, my cold, before the call of duty tomorrow, work.  After yesterdays rain, today, Bank Holiday, was lovely and sunny…..to start with.  Anyway, my husband who has a new car and at the moment will drive me anywhere and I mean anywhere, said…. surely you would like to go and look for ‘Round Tower Churches’.  He is so crafty, we were in the car and on the way before I had finished my cough sweet.

We did have a lovely round trip of Norfolk, we were following a route I found in a guide book, not sure how long ago it was written, but it took us to places we didn’t even know about.  There were five churches on this route, we actually found eight, we are still trying to work that one out.  I was very good, I saw lots of lovely churches that I would have loved to have stopped at, but I was being very strict, they had to have round towers.  I did deviate once, that was to take a quick peep at a castle, it wasn’t open, but its on the list for the spring.  The weather was quite a mixture, from lovely sunshine to almost snow, we saw lots of gritter lorries on the way home, laying salt, so looks like we are in for a cold night.

The lovely medieval elephant pew end, is in the charming Round Tower Church of St Peter & St Paul’s at Tuttington, Norfolk.  Once I have sorted the photos, I will start to post the churches, each one has its own character, well to start with, they all have towers that could be Saxon, thats a start.

January 2017

Demons of Upwell, Norfolk

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St Peter’s Church in Upwell, Norfolk, my second favourite church, has some of the most wonderful demons that you can ever hope to see……..they are so scary, if I find them so, what would a medieval parishioner had thought…..hell and damnation.

Enjoy.

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