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In recognition of the essential restrictions and measures imposed by the Scottish and UK Governments, we have closed all sites, depots and offices, including the HES Archives and Library, with immediate effect. Read our latest statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Standing Building Recording

Date November 2012

Event ID 992903

Category Recording

Type Standing Building Recording


NT 54767 34168 (NT53SW 117) This group of stones was accessed in November 2012 and consists of the remaining items not catalogued in 2011 (DES 2011, 164). Many are displayed at high levels on the museum walls, and were accessed by means of a scaffolding tower. Among these stones are a canopy and a large capital, as well as a highly decorative and well preserved group of vault bosses, and many details were visible during the cataloguing process which are difficult or impossible to see from ground level.

Two large stones, a canopy and a column capital, are related. Both are set high up on the W wall of the museum and are 15th-century in date. The canopy is semi-octagonal in plan, with small-scale crennelations running around the outer edge, and rows of crocketing carved along the angles, from the lower edge to the apex. The crocketing is formed by low-relief, and rather seaweed-like leaves. The crennelations are decorated with numerous small holes drilled in the outer faces. Similarly, the lower edge of the capital has also been drilled with small holes. The capital comes from the top of a wall-shaft, and has square flower and foliage motifs set at intervals around the lower edge, and these would have had a row of miniature crennelations above, although these are mostly broken away.

The impressive collection of vault bosses includes one rather fearsome example, which covers the junction of four ribs, two longitudinal and two diagonal. The outer face of the boss is carved with a human head, with the mouth half-open and the teeth showing. Leech-like creatures are shown feeding at the eyes and mouth, and on each side of the head, a tiny pair of human hands are visible. The bodies of the leeches are rather leaf-like, being flattened and veined, and with undulating and seaweed-like edges which encroach onto the vault ribs. They resemble the carving of foliage or scallop shells on other bosses in the museum.

This and other inventories of carved stones at Historic Scotland’s properties in care are held by Historic Scotland’s Collections Unit. For further information please contact

Mary Márkus, Archetype


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