Medieval

The Glory of Albi, South of France

Today 15.09.17, we arrived in Albi in the South of France, and I have managed to download a couple of photos.  This is the view of the cathedral from the window where we are staying and of course it was straight there to have a look and I have downloaded one interior photo so you have an idea of what we saw.  Tomorrow all the public buildings in France are free of charge which we didn’t know about, so as we have a whole day in Albi, we are going to be very busy, much to husbands amusement 🙂  More to follow when we get home.

Newport Castle, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Last weekend, September 2017, we were in Wales, and we only had one day of exploring, but you can do a lot in a day.  On the way back from visiting the lighthouse at Strumble Head, in North Pembrokeshire, we were driving through Newport on the way back to New Quay, when looking right, I saw a castle.  Now….. we have driven through Newport several times, but I guess I have never looked up that particular road before, so it was a lovely surprise to see a new castle to me, in an area that we thought we knew really well.  There is no access to the Castle, as it is a private home, but you can get a good view from the road, or go further up the hillside as we did.  I would have loved to have got closer, but it is someones home, so I didn’t creep up the drive, hiding behind trees, but I so wished I could have done.

I also visited the church, which had some early photos of the church, but with castle and then the Tourist Board had a few more.  It’s always interesting to see some earlier references to theses ancient castles.

 

A little history…….It is suggested that Newport Castle was founded by the first Lord Marcher of Kemes, Martin de Turribus in 1191 and rebuilt by his son William at the end of the 12th Century.  None of this original castle survives, with the oldest remaining parts of the building thought to date to the late 13th century. The castle was captured by Llywelyn the Great in 1215 and Llywelyn the Last in 1257 but on both occasions was recaptured.   Ownership of the castle was transferred to Lord Audley in 1324.

The castle suffered extensive damage during the Welsh Revolt at the start of the 15th century. The castle was temporarily transferred to the crown when the then Lord Audley, James, was executed for high treason and all his lands seized in 1497, but these were returned to his son in 1534. William Owen of Henllys bought the castle nine years later.

A three-storey private residence was built in 1859 on the site of the castles gate-house, as part of renovations carried out by the owner at the time, Sir Thomas Lloyd, during which one of the flanking towers of the gatehouse was demolished. Three other towers at the corners of the building remain, along with a curtain wall.  A vaulted crypt adjoins the south-eastern tower.

The castle was listed with Grade I status on 16 January 1952. Today, the building remains in private ownership and is not open to the public.

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.  

 

 

 

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

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.  

A Wedding, A Poorly Nipper & Newark Castle, Nottinghamshire

We went to Fareham in Hampshire for very special wedding, today 08.08.17, my fathers.  My father who is ninety, married his girlfriend of thirty-four years, his new wife is seventy-two.  The day was beautiful, even though we had some rain, it didn’t matter, the day just shone.  I just wanted to make a note of this special day……so I do not miss their first anniversary, I’m terrible at dates 🙂   Also my oldest dog Nipper is in the vets, we had to rush him there three days ago as he was really very poorly and we found out he has very bad diabetes.  The vets have had to try and level his blood, which we think they have done, although he is still very poorly, he is starting to respond, so fingers cross he will pull though.  Anyway we will continue with the real reason for this post…… Newark Castle in Nottinghamshire.  We visited last year 2016, we had passed Newark several times over the years, but this time we managed to stop.

Newark Castle and Gardens are lovely, formal gardens bordered by the remaining walls of Newark Castle which was partly destroyed in 1646 at the end of the English Civil War. The Castle has stood proudly on the banks of the River Trent for nearly 900 years.

A little history….

The castle’s foundations date back to Saxon times but it was developed as a castle by the Bishop of Lincoln in 1123. Known as the Gateway to the North, the castle endured numerous sieges during the Baronial and English Civil war before it was partially destroyed in 1646.  From the riverside the bulk of Newark Castle looks extremely impressive, looming above the water like a forbidding barrier. It is only when you approach from the town that you realise how ‘one-sided’ the structure is. For on the town side, there are almost no remaining walls, though the towers are still impressive.  

 

 

I also took a mixture of black & white, as the castle grounds are used for weddings and we counted three while we were there.  Although the weather was very cloudy, it was still warm day.