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History

The sculptured stones at Kilmartin Glen are grouped into three separate displays: one inside the church, and the other two in the graveyard.

Inside the church

Fragments of two medieval crosses, and one early Christian cross are on display in the church.

The early Christian cross known as the ‘Kilmartin Cross’ is the oldest, dating to about AD 900. It has short cross-arms and is intricately carved with a diagonal key pattern. At its centre is an unusual curled diagonal cross, with almond-shaped frames above and below.

The other two crosses inside the church are medieval. The smaller one comprises the head and upper part of a cross carved with crucified Christ from the 1300s or 1400s.

The larger has a crucified Christ on one face, and – uniquely among West Highland graveslabs – Christ seated on a throne on the other. It was once thought to date from the 1500s, but new research suggests it dates to around 1200.

In the graveyard

The Campbell burial aisle, built for Bishop Neil Campbell of the Aisles (d. 1627), is home to the largest group of stones.

Its highlights are the West Highland graveslabs from the 1300s or 1400s. These long, tapering stones feature:

  • intricate scrollwork and interlace
  • figures of warriors and clerics
  • elaborate crosses and swords

Most are carved in a style common to this area of Argyll, with the stone probably brought from quarries around Loch Awe.

Seven memorials also lie in the ‘Poltalloch Enclosure’, built for the Malcolms of Poltalloch in the 1700s. All but one are inscribed ‘POLTALLOCH’. They comprise:

  • three West Highland grave-slabs of the 1300s or 1400s
  • two medieval effigies of warriors wielding spears and swords
  • two tombstones from the 1600s

A prehistoric landscape

A rich prehistoric landscape survives in Kilmartin Glen, providing a tantalising insight into its prehistoric population. The surviving rock art along the glen is remarkable for the number of elaborately carved outcrops, the style of and extent of the carvings, and their close association with other prehistoric monuments.  No other place in Scotland has such a concentration of prehistoric carved stone surfaces, and Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments.

Other carved rock outcrops around Kilmartin Glen include:

Other monuments include:

 

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