Carved in Stone 1

Several recent vacations have loosely followed the theme of visiting early Christian sites in the UK and Ireland. Beginning with a continuing education course on the Celtic Church, we have visited sites in Ireland such as the Rock of Cashel and Trinity College in Dublin to view the Book of Kells. We have also walked along St. Cuthbert’s Way in the Scottish Borders, from Melrose to Holy Island; visited sites such as Iona and Lindisfarne; and toured several monastic ruins in northern England.

Very little remains from this ancient past, but much of what does remain is made of stone. I have decided to create a series of images and blog posts dedicated to stone carving.

The following images are of the remnants of two historic stone crosses which are on display in Kilmartin in Argyll and Bute, SW Scotland. Kilmartin Glen is a part of Scotland which has a deep historical past, including Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age sites which predate early Christianity.

Kilmichael Cross was originally placed outside Kilmichael Glassary Parish Church. It is estimated to have been carved from epidiorite stone in the 14th or 15th century. This carving depicts the crucifiction of Christ on the cross, and it is now on display at the Kilmartin Museum.

The second stone carving is an earlier Mediaeval cross from around the late 9th or early 10th centuries. It is known as one of two Kilmartin Crosses which stood in front of the Kilmartin Parish Church. Both crosses are now displayed inside the church, protected from the elements. The geometric interlace patterns on the face of the cross have inspired Celtic style jewellery. The motif on the lower shaft of the cross is referred to as a diagonal key pattern.

Kilmartin Cross

These images were processed in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. The textures used for the backgrounds were created by Kim Klassen.

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