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Kilkerran Cemetery, Cristin's Cross and MacEachern's Cross

A Scheduled Monument in South Kintyre, Argyll and Bute

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.4156 / 55°24'56"N

Longitude: -5.5897 / 5°35'23"W

OS Eastings: 172893

OS Northings: 619382

OS Grid: NR728193

Mapcode National: IRL Y3.CH69

Mapcode Global: GBR DGLD.DDB

Entry Name: Kilkerran Cemetery, Cristin's Cross and MacEachern's Cross

Scheduled Date: 4 November 1927

Last Amended: 5 October 2011

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM248

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Campbeltown

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: South Kintyre

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument comprises a group of memorial stones of early Christian and medieval date surviving within Kilkerran churchyard and cemetery. The monument was previously the subject of two separate schedulings dating to 1927 and 1975, but the documentation did not meet modern standards. The present rescheduling rectifies this and replaces both the earlier designations.

Two earth-fast stones are located within the walled cemetery. Stone 1 is the base fragment of MacEachern's cross, a cross-shaft of 15th-century date which has been re-used and set into the ground between two later grave stones. The stone displays a figure on horseback carrying a spear, with a man and a woman embracing in the panel above, a galley carved at its base, and an interlace design on its rear and side faces. Stone 2 is an intact West Highland grave-slab, displaying a sword motif, lying horizontal within the McNaughton enclosure some 8m to the north of MacEachern's cross.

A further two earth-fast stones and three loose stones are located adjacent to the north wall of Kilkerran churchyard. Stone 3, Cristin's Cross, consists of two 15th-century cross-shaft sections bonded together and set into a modern base with overall dimensions of 1.88m high and 0.3m wide. Stone 4 is a small early Christian cross, probably a grave marker, set into a modern base. The reverse bears an incised cross and its front is decorated with a low relief carving of a ring-headed cross. Of the three loose stones, Stone 5 is the top section of the aforementioned MacEachern's cross. It has an interlace motif and crucifixion scene on one face, and a raised inscription and pair of shears on the other. Stone 6 is the base fragment from a West Highland grave-slab and has the carving of the tip of a sword. Stone 7 is a middle fragment from a West Highland grave-slab and this also has the carving of a section of sword and interlace motif.

There are two areas to be scheduled as shown in red on the accompanying map. The first includes MacEachern's Cross and a West Highland grave-slab (Stones 1 and 2) within a circular area, 15m in diameter, defined from the midpoint between the two stones. The second area includes Stones 3 and 4 and their bases, Stones 5, 6 and 7, and a rectangular area of ground within which evidence relating to the stones' erection and use may survive. All walls, other grave stones and burial lairs are specifically excluded from the scheduling.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument comprises a diverse group of early Christian to medieval memorial stones. The early Christian grave marker has a very well-preserved carved cross on both sides. The complete West Highland grave-slab, together with Cristin's and MacEachern's stones, the former in reconstructed form and the latter in two fragments, are intricately carved with motifs illustrating a gravestone iconography that was widespread in Argyll during the high medieval period. The monument can improve our understanding of early Christian and medieval iconography and artistic form, schools of sculpture, secular patronage and the ways that people expressed their religious faith and devotion. In addition, inscriptions in Lombardic capitals on Cristin's and MacEachern's crosses document important local families and add to our knowledge about the history and prosperity of this part of Argyll.

Contextual characteristics

Although some of the memorial stones no longer stand where they were originally erected, as a group they are closely related to the existence of a medieval church dedicated to St Ciaran, first recorded on this site shortly before the middle of the 13th century. After the Reformation, the parishes of Kilmichael, Kilchousland and Kilkivan were joined to Kilkerran in 1617 and became part of what is now Campbeltown parish. Ruins of the medieval church were still visible in the 1870s towards the centre of the innermost portion of the walled cemetery. By 1967, with the exception of this important collection of memorial stones, no recognisable remains of the church were visible, the site being dominated by more recent funerary monuments.

Associative characteristics

We do not know if the early Christian cross has been re-used on this site as there is no evidence of a church at this location before the 13th century. The medieval stones have rich historical associations with the medieval church and local families. Cristin's Cross bears the inscription: 'this is the cross of Gilchrist MacKay and his wife'. MacEachern's Cross reads 'this is the cross of Colin MacEachran and his wife Katherine'. The name MacEachern is attributed to Colin MacEachern, chief of the MacEacherns of Killellan in 1499. It is understood that Colin MacEachern survived until the early years of the 16th century although the cross, like similar monuments, is thought to have been erected during his lifetime. The presence nearby of at least one 19th-century MacEachern family memorial stone demonstrates this family's association with the area until at least the 19th century.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it comprises a diverse and well-preserved group of memorial stones, found close to one another within the site of a ruined medieval church, founded probably by the 13th century. The group contributes to our understanding of the art, society, material culture and beliefs of the west coast of Scotland from the early Christian to medieval period.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the early Christian cross as NR71NW2.01; the two MacEachern's Cross fragments as NR71NW4; and Cristin's Cross as NR71NW5. .

Richard Heawood wrote to the owner of the monument on 8 July 2010; Richard Heawood and Philip Robertson visited the monument on 27 August 2010; Richard Heawood wrote to the owner on 11 October 2010 confirming the intention to reschedule.

References: Fisher, I 2001 Early Medieval Sculpture in the West Highlands and Islands, RCAHMS/Soc Ant Scot Monograph series 1 Edinburgh 117

Mckerral, A 1948 Kintyre in the seventeenth century, Edinburgh

RCAHMS, 1971 The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the ancient monuments, volume 1: Kintyre, Edinburgh 125

White, T P 1873 Archaeological sketches in Scotland: district of Kintyre, Edinburgh

95

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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