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Islay House, cross shaft 340m SSE of

A Scheduled Monument in Kintyre and the Islands, Argyll and Bute

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.7823 / 55°46'56"N

Longitude: -6.2514 / 6°15'5"W

OS Eastings: 133538

OS Northings: 662510

OS Grid: NR335625

Mapcode National: GBR BFYF.HB8

Mapcode Global: WGYGT.YX9M

Entry Name: Islay House, cross shaft 340m SSE of

Scheduled Date: 26 November 1963

Last Amended: 19 March 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2359

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Killarow and Kilmeny

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Kintyre and the Islands

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument consists of a sculptured stone cross-shaft and base, composed of fragments of at least two different sculptured stones of medieval date, set into a circular stone cairn plinth. The cross-shaft stands on the summit of Cnoc na Croiche, a small hill approximately 10m above sea level located within the landscaped garden grounds of Islay House in the island of Islay. The monument was first scheduled in 1963, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present scheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is circular on plan, measuring 5m in diameter, centered on the stone. The scheduling includes the stone cross-shaft, the base and the cairn described above and an area around them in which evidence relating to the monument's re-use may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is in relatively good condition overall. It stands to a height of 3.2m in total, including the stone-base and cairn which are together around 1m high and 1m wide. The vertical sections of the cross-shaft sit within a socket in the square stone-base atop the stone cairn plinth. It is possible to decipher worn panel divisions of double-beaded mouldings on the stone-base. This socket-stone and the lower part of the cross were recorded in the late 18th century as being on the site of the Old Parish Church and burial ground at Kilarrow. The lower part of the cross-shaft tapers in shape. It is decorated on its faces with scroll-work panels and figures of a horseman and a kneeling woman with a rosary. It has an illegible inscription on one side and a mostly illegible inscription in Lombardic capitals on the other: only 'PAT/RIC[II]' ('of Patrick') can be made out. This piece is in a style consistent with that of the Iona school during the 14th century. The top section of the shaft has been added probably during the 19th century, but was made out of part of a grave-slab that was trimmed to fit the tapering shape of the monument overall. The remains of this grave-slab bear evidence of interlace sword and plant-scroll carvings. It is also attributed to the 14th century.

Albeit a composite monument, this cross-shaft, with its various elements, has the potential to contribute towards our understanding of West Highland sculpture and religious art, and funerary monuments in general. It also enhances our understanding and appreciation of medieval society and regional identity in the west of Scotland, and Islay's political history and importance during the medieval period.

Contextual characteristics

The cross-shaft is located within the landscaped garden grounds of Islay House. This substantial mansion house was erected by Sir Hugh Campbell of Cawdor around 1680, close to the village of Bridgend (known formerly as Kilarrow) and facing SW across the head of Loch Indaal. Islay House was substantially altered during the 18th and 19th centuries, during which time the composite parts of the monument were probably removed from the site of the former church and burial ground of Kilarrow and put together as a cross-shaft on the summit of Cnoc na Croiche. At around the same time, the hill was enclosed by a low earth bank and a small octagonal tower built 30m S of the cross-shaft, providing views over the surrounding area.

The site of the former church and burial ground of Kilarrow is located 100m NNE of the monument, also now within the policies of Islay House. This church was demolished when a new parish church was built at Bowmore in 1769, but the burial ground remains in use. A number of other carved stones of 14th-century date, also attributed to the Iona school, remain at the original site. As a group, this collection of carved stones can be compared with others on Islay and across the west of Scotland, particularly the collection at Iona, enhancing our understanding and appreciation of West Highland sculpture and religious art, as well as medieval society and politics in this region.

Associative characteristics

The existence of the former parish church of Kilarrow is on record from 1500, but its dedication to St Maelrubha (died AD 722) and the presence of 14th-century carved stones at this site suggest earlier use. As to the current location of the monument, in 1878 the Ordnance Survey recorded that Mr Walter Fredrick Campbell (1798-1855), one time Minister of Parliament for Argyllshire and the then owner of Islay House, had erected a sculptured stone on the summit of Cnoc na Croiche. This record is reflected on the Ordnance Survey First Edition map. Walter Frederick Campbell had taken over the lairdship of Islay House from his grandfather, also Walter Campbell, in 1816. He then embarked on a programme of development which was to see the setting up of the villages of Port Ellen, Port Charlotte and Port Wemyss, together with widespread land improvement and the more commercial development of the distilling industry in Islay. By the 1840s, inherited debts, the hardship of the potato famine and low returns from his land led Walter Frederick Campbell to bankruptcy in 1848, at which stage his lands were sequestrated and held in trust on behalf of his creditors.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance as a good example of medieval stone sculpture. Re-located during the 19th century within the designed landscape of Islay House by an important Islay landowner, this composite monument is part of a significant group of medieval stones of 14th-century date from the Iona school that survived at the nearby site of the former church and burial ground at Kilarrow. The loss of this monument would significantly diminish our ability to understand and appreciate medieval stone carving and social, political and ecclesiastical life in Argyll throughout the Middle Ages and more recently.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the cross shaft as NR36SW 1. The West of Scotland Archaeology Service SMR reference is WOSASPIN 2346.

References

Graham R C 1895, The carved stones of Islay, Glasgow, pp 40ff.

Lamont W D 1968, Ancient and medieval sculptured stones of Islay, Glasgow, p 47.

RCAHMS 1984, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the monuments volume 5: Islay, Jura, Colonsay and Oronsay, Edinburgh, pp. 184-187, no. 359.

Information on the Campbells of Cawdor and Shawfield [accessed 12 December 2012].

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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