Churches

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 Antiquity of Kilmartin Churchyard, Scotland

 

Kilmartin Parish Church stands in the centre of  Kilmartin Glen, and just south down the glen, are a profusion of prehistoric remains, including a linear cemetery, numerous standing stones, and several sites with cup and ring carved rocks.  But for me, it was the graveyard and church that lured me in to explore this ancient site.   You can see the church from the road, and in 2014 we didn’t have time to visit, but in May of 2016, we did.  You know when you see sometime, and you hold your breath, think wow, this is going to be amazing, thats what I felt when we walked through the arch to explore.

I have already posted about some of the stones, those thought to be most at risk from weathering, under cover of a former mausoleum building at the rear of the churchyard, this post is of what is still in situ in the graveyard.

Together with the sub-circular form of the church graveyard, the stones hint at a much longer history of religious activity at Kilmartin, ranging in date from the 900’s to the 1600’s. 

 

 

 I think most of the mediaeval grave slabs in the raised enclosure, photos above, beautifully carved slabs that once covered the graves of members of the Malcolm family, are from St Columba’s Chapel in Poltalloch, which have been move to Kilmartin.  Many of the stones were the work of a group of sculptors working in the Loch Awe area through the 14th and 15th centuries.  The carvers may have had a workshop at Kilmartin itself or in the surrounding area.  The quality of the carvings of the highest order, and the designs are similar to others in the West Highlands, such as Kilberry, Keills, and Kilmory Knap.

I found an early Christian Stone with a cross very similar to the one I found on Tiree, a Hebridean Island, but as yet I haven’t found any information on it.

The above slabs are still in situ and have wonderful symbols on them.

I will post about the museum, church and the two remain stone crosses later.  It is worth a visit before going off down the Glen to visit the more well known sites.  

Village Sign & Church of Great Dunham, Norfolk

Norfolk is full of wonderful churches and Great Dunhams Church, St Andrews, is a little gem.  This lovely little church is more Saxon than everything else, so it has a right to be on the village sign, which is great for my ‘Village Sign & Church Category’.   I haven’t be able to find anything out about the sign, but its the church that is really interesting…..post to follow soon.

January 2016 ‘Village Sign & Church’ Category 

St George’s Church, Woolhope, Herefordshire

 

On the day we visited Ledbury, Herefordshire in February 2015, which was last nights post, we found a church to explore.  Herefordshire has some wonderful churches and much to my shame, I have hardly posted any, so to make amends, this post is St George’s Church in the village of Woolhope.   I have posted some of the wonderful stained glass windows before, but will included them again.

The church is approached from the south by a long path from the timbered ‘Skallenge’ (lych gate), dating from 1581.

On the day of our visit, the graveyard was full of snowdrops, almost like a carpet in some parts.  I found several interesting cherub headstones and one very upset looking one, as the following photo shows.

I wasn’t too worried about the church not being open, as all the churches we stopped to explore in Herefordshire had been open and yes it was unlocked.

The one thing I did notice very quickly were the extremely thick columns as the structure is largely Norman, from the second half of the 12th Century.  The Norman work is seen in the North arcade, a window in the Sanctuary and a carved head under the tower, but much of the present fabric, internal woodwork and fittings, date from a major restoration in the 1880s under the benefaction of the Booker family of Wessington Court.

The 13th Century tower commands the valley named after Wulviva who, with her more famous sister Godiva, gave the land to the Dean and Chapter of Hereford. The sisters are commemorated in a striking window in the North aisle.

 

 

A Church in the South Tyrol, Italy

Another photo from the train window, while traveling from the UK to Venice, Italy 2016.  We saw a great many tall red spired churches, in fact in the end they all look the same and I have spent quite a while researching this one.  But every time I think I have found it, something is not quite right.  The church appeared after we had passed Reifenstein Castle, as per my previous post, but it was before Trento……my, thats narrowed it down a lot… anyway its the image of the church that counts 🙂

 

Church of Ognissanti, Florence, Italy

Last year, 2016, we visited Florence, Italy, it wasn’t a particularly nice day, but what amazed me was the amount of people there were, I actually thought that in October, it would have been quieter, got that wrong.  It didn’t help that we got lost once we left the train station, we walked for ages until we worked out that we were totally going in the wrong direction, we cut through some back streets to the river and then realised where we should be.  But if we hadn’t got lost we would have missed the beautiful church of Ognissanti (All Saints).  Not a large church, but it was open, it was free and the best thing of all……you could take photos, as long as you didn’t use a flash.  After all the closed and photo forbidden churches in Venice…. I was going to photograph every inch of it.  

The Church of Ognissanti is a Franciscan church and Sandro Botticelli is buried here, which I didn’t know until I got home and carried out some research.  

A little history…. I added the information boards at the bottom of the post….The original church was completed in 1257, but was almost completely rebuilt in the baroque style in 1627.  There is a beautiful blue terracotta glazed lunette, over the entrance, in the style of della Robbia, but the artist was actually Benedetto Buglioni. There are frescoes by Ghirlandiao and Botticelli in the church. 

Below is Giotto’s Crucifix which dates from the 1320’s, which has been carefully restored over eight years.   It was a lovey surprise to see it shine in the darkness, so very beautiful.  

Giotto’s Crucifix

Some information I found………….Formerly in the sacristy for 84 years, Giotto’s monumental Crucifix is back in the Florentine church for which it was painted in 1310-1315, after a careful 8-year long restoration by the Opificio delle Pierre Dure, which has restored the luminosity and brilliance of its colours and glazes, its volumes and its modelling.

The Ognissanti Crucifix was a neglected Italian treasure which a team of experts have now repaired and identified.  After long being attributed to a relative or school of the early Renaissance artist Giotto, the Ognissanti crucifix is now believed to be the work of the 14th-century Italian himself.  The painted cross, which hangs in the Ognissanti church in Florence, underwent extensive cleaning by the local restoration lab Opificio delle Pietre Dure.  The project was led by art historian Marco Ciatti, who has concluded that the crucifix is a Giotto masterpiece dating from the 1320s.

The majestic tempera on panel realised by Giotto and his workshop around 1310-1320 had been sadly neglected for centuries.  Kept in the sacristy of the church of Ognissanti, it was rarely seen and the vigorous modelling of the flesh tones of the figures, and the many precious details of the pictorial surface, were hidden by a severely altered layer due to a treatment of the past and century-old grime. The restoration of Giotto’s Ognissanti Crucifix was started by Paola Bracco in 2002.
The crucifix is situated in a chapel to the left of the transept. The crucifix was originally located above the rood screen in the transept of the Ognissanti church, but this no longer exists.

The church seems small inside, with no aisles, and compressed almost for being very densely decorated. Vertigo-inducing trompe l’oeil architectural ceiling painting by Giuseppe Benucci.  When you look at the ceiling at different angles, it seemed to move.  The ceiling seems a lot higher than it is, and it looks like the angel is about to fly from the balcony, which is really flat against the ceiling, so very clever.

St Jerome in his Study, fresco by Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1480.  Unfortunately I have no idea who painted the rest of the frescos, but I love the little round ceiling with the angels.  I will let the photos continue the tour of this amazing church that we were lucky to find.

Hill Top Church

In 2016 while travelling through Austria on a train, I saw this beautiful church, I think its a church.  We were near Innsbruck, but I have no idea really where we were.   We passed by so many wonderful castles, churches and monasteries up high in the hills and mountains……. and not one could I visit, oh well, I will just have to make do with…. just looking at them again.

October 2016