Ancient Monuments

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Keil in Morvern,cross 50m south of Keil Church,Lochaline

A Scheduled Monument in Fort William and Ardnamurchan, Highland

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Latitude: 56.5402 / 56°32'24"N

Longitude: -5.79 / 5°47'23"W

OS Eastings: 167093

OS Northings: 745124

OS Grid: NM670451

Mapcode National: GBR DC2F.JPC

Mapcode Global: WH0FN.1W42

Entry Name: Keil in Morvern,cross 50m S of Keil Church,Lochaline

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1927

Last Amended: 27 February 1996

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM256

Schedule Class: Cultural

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

Location: Morvern

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Fort William and Ardnamurchan

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument consists of a free-standing late-medieval disc-headed cross, set into a socket stone, standing 50m S of the 19th-century Keil Church. The cross stands approximately 50m due E of the remains of the medieval church, and approximately 20m E of the present boundary wall of the burial ground. It faces N and S, although originally it is likely to have faced E and W, suggesting it and its socket stone have been re-erected at some time in its history. Its location outwith the burial ground is not necessarily significant, as similar crosses survive from contexts both within and outwith burial grounds. The cross measures 2.45m high, 0.28m wide by 0.14m thick at the base of the shaft, and 0.22 m wide by 0.11m thick at the neck. The arms splay outwards in profile and their ends are keeled. The disc head on both sides is filled with plait-work surrounding a small boss, with sprays of foliage in each arm. The S face of the shaft is carved with a double scroll of foliage, terminating at the base in a pair of opposed dragons' heads. The N face bears a single scroll of foliage (springing at the base from a single dragon's head) which divides into a double scroll about two-thirds of the way up. The cross appears to be of the Iona school, and can be dated to the 14th-15th centuries. It bears a strong resemblance to 3 crosses on Islay (those at Kildalton, Keills and Finlaggan) and may even be from the same workshop. The socket stone is rectangular and itself rests on the ground. It has been suggested that the burial ground may originally have extended as far as the site of the cross, but there are no visible traces of this. The area to be scheduled is a circle 5m in diameter, centred on the cross, as shown in red on the accompanying map. It includes the cross and its base stone, together with an area which may contain evidence for the date and means of the cross's erection on this site, and of the extent of the medieval burial ground.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a complete late medieval cross of West Highland style' one of only about 10 complete examples to survive 'which may stand on or very close to its original site. Study of it and archaeological investigation of the surrounding area has the potential to add to our understanding of social and ecclesiastical organisation and the organisation of the sculpture profession in late medieval Scotland, also to the significance of the siting of such crosses and potentially to our understanding of medieval burial practices.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland




RCAHMS: Inventory of Monuments in Argyll, Vol. 3 (Mull, Coll, Tiree and North Argyll), 130 and plate 21.

Steer, K, and Bannerman, J: Late Medieval Monumental Sculpture of the West Highlands, passim, but especially p37.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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