Islay, Kildalton Chapel Burial Ground, Kildalton Great Cross

Cross (early Medieval)

Site Name Islay, Kildalton Chapel Burial Ground, Kildalton Great Cross

Classification Cross (early Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Kildalton Old Parish Church; Kildalton High Cross; Thief's Cross; The Kildalton Cross

Canmore ID 251204

Site Number NR45SE 3.3

NGR NR 45802 50830

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Kildalton And Oa
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Treasured Places - HLF funded (1 August 2007)

The cross at Kildalton Chapel on Islay is one of the finest Early Christian crosses in Britain. It is closely related to the group of major crosses, St Oran's, St John's and St Martin's at Iona, and, like them, it probably dates from the second half of the 8th century.

Standing 2.65m in height by 1.32m across the arms, the cross is carved from a single block of local stone. It is elaborately decorated with intricate carved reliefs of interlacing spiral-work and zoomorphs, such as fierce serpents, lions and birds. Several biblical scenes are depicted on the reverse: these include the Virgin and Child with angels, Cain murdering his brother Abel, Abraham preparing to sacrifice Isaac, and David killing the Lion.

Other carved stones on the Kildalton Chapel site cover the period from the 10th to the18th centuries and include one which is sometimes referred to as 'The Thief's Cross'.

Information from RCAHMS (PJG) 1 August 2007

An image of this site has been nominated as one of Scotland's favourite archive images. For more information about the project visit



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