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Abercorn Church, carved stones in Session House

A Scheduled Monument in Linlithgow, West Lothian

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.9956 / 55°59'43"N

Longitude: -3.4747 / 3°28'28"W

OS Eastings: 308116

OS Northings: 679047

OS Grid: NT081790

Mapcode National: GBR 1X.VCB9

Mapcode Global: WH5R4.LKLL

Entry Name: Abercorn Church, carved stones in Session House

Scheduled Date: 21 January 1998

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM7545

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Crosses and carved stones: cross (free-standing)

Location: Abercorn

County: West Lothian

Electoral Ward: Linlithgow

Traditional County: West Lothian

Description

The monument comprises a collection of carved stones displayed in the Session House of Abercorn Church as follows:

1. Hog-backed recumbent stone

Carved from white sandstone, both sides of this monument curve downwards from a plain rounded ridge and are ornamented with seven rows of an escalloped design ending in a narrow undecorated band at the base. The ends are devoid of ornamentation.

2. Hog-backed recumbent stone

Broken, vertically, into two pieces this stone shows five rows of a square-like scaling on either side of a plain rounded ridge. The ends are unornamented.

3. Cross shaft

Carved from white sandstone, this cross shaft is now set in a concrete base. Sculpted in relief on all faces, the obverse shows three distinct panels of ornamentation with a tiny portion of a fourth, possibly of interlaced work, at the top. The upper panel has a diagonal key pattern, the middle display interlaced work and the lower contains a spiral pattern with slight interlaced work in the four corners.

The reverse is damaged along the right margin but the remainder of the face bears a design of intertwining foliage. On one edge of the shaft, a panel depicts intertwining branches while the other edge shows a panel of scroll foliage with a small portion of an upper panel of diagonal key foliage.

4. Cross slab

This stone has a chamfered edge all round and displays an elaborate cross in bas-relief. In the design, a slim shaft rises from a calvary of four steps and is crowned by a cross-head with large trefoiled extremeties filling the space within a circle. The shaft is flanked on the right by a chalice.

5. Cross slab

This stone is damaged at one corner and obviously incomplete. The reverse of the stone is roughly dressed but the obverse is carved with a cross having an ornate circular head and a three-stepped calvary. At the base, to the right, is depicted a pair of shears.

6. Two pieces of a cross shaft

a. The larger portion forms the incomplete lower part of the cross divided into three panels, the lower of which is filled with an interlaced design composed of two interwoven ribbons. The panel above shows a vine branching out into two open spiral scrolls, each tipped with a leaf and encircling a large bird. A simple interlacing appears in the broken panel above.

b. The smaller portion forms the incomplete upper part of the cross with the lower panel forming a continuation of that shown on the lower part of the shaft. The panel above depicts the bodies of two whippet-like animals with limbs and tails intertwined and above this is depicted a flowering vine with interwoven branches tipped with leaves and fruit. On each of the edges, on both portions of the shaft, a long narrow panel bearing a sinuous vine scroll along the whole length of the field has been enclosed by a moulded border.

The area to be scheduled is rectangular in shape and measures 8m N-S ny 6m E-W as marked in red on the accompanying map. Included in the scheduled area are the six stones listed above. Excluded from the scheduling is the fabric of the Session House in which the stones are displayed and the wooden plinths on which they sit.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a superb collection of early Christian carved stones which has the potential to add to our understanding of the function of such stones in the early Christian church and of the techniques used in their creation.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

References:

Calder, C. S. T. (1937-38) Three fragments of a sculptured cross of Anglian type, Pro Soc Antiq Scot, Vol. 72, 217-223.

RCAHMS (1929) Inventory of monuments in Midlothian and West Lothian, 180-2.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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