Galloway’s tallest known cross, the Monreith Cross, once stood at more than 3 metres high. Unlike other crosses in the Whithorn area, it is carved from sandstone – most likely moved, with great effort, from the West Highlands. Superior to the local greywacke stone, sandstone could be carved in finer detail and high relief.
The free-standing cross has a circular head and equal arms, with a raised boss (stud) carved at its the centre. Between the arms are circular hollows, each also with a boss. The single panel of the shaft features interlace work. The sculptor has shown great skill by varying the size of the rings here to take account of the shaft’s uneven shape. This gives the impression of consistency.
Originally, the cross stood on Court Hill, near the mansion house of the Maxwells of Monreith. Later, it may have been used to punish wrongdoers. The remains of two iron rings suggest that ‘jougs’ (an iron chain and collar) may have been attached to the stone.
The cross was broken in the 1600s and has been repaired, but a section of the shaft is missing. It was moved to the museum at Whithorn Priory in 1973.