The Barochan Cross was created between AD 900 and 1100, and probably originally stood beside Barochan Mill, 10km from Paisley. In the 1800s it was moved to the summit of a knoll near the mill, before being moved to its current spot in Paisley Abbey in 1981.
Most of the cross’s decoration comprises panels of interlace with a key pattern. A lower panel on the front contains an interesting scene, which features:
- a mounted warrior wielding a spear
- a man carrying a drinking horn
- three other men, one holding an axe
- two animals
On the back are two panels containing a line of four identical figures. In the upper panel is the outline of four figures in long garments, while the figures in the lower panel are shown in profile, blowing trumpets and wielding spears.
The cross is overtly Christian, but it does not seem to have been related to a nearby church. It originally stood next to a track that would have led to Dumbarton Rock.
Immediately to the south of the cross’s original location is a low hillock where the later medieval castle was built. It is possible that this was the location of the earlier lordly centre also. The Roman fort on nearby Barochan Hill is believed to have been called Coria, deriving from the Celtic ‘hosting place’. It may be that at one time Barochan was a tribal centre.