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Eigg, Kildonnan

Cross (Medieval)

Site Name Eigg, Kildonnan

Classification Cross (Medieval)

Canmore ID 108566

Site Number NM48NE 19.01

NGR NM 48877 85329

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Small Isles
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Lochaber
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NM48NE 19.01 4887 8533

See also NM48NE 24.

Casts of 4 cross-slabs and a late 14th c. cross shaft at St Donan's are in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS) together with that of parts of a head and shaft of another cross featuring a hunting scene.

D Monro 1549; OPS 1854; RCAHMS 1928, visited 1925; M Martin 1934; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1933; Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1934.

The 14th c cross-shaft is mounted on a modern base on a rise to the S of the church, and the head and part of the shaft of another with similar decoration lies against it.

Visited by OS (AA), 8 May 1972.


Field Visit (8 July 1925)


The ruin of St Donnan's Church, a post-Reformation building, stands on the east side of the island at the head of the bay Poll nam Partan. It is a stone and lime building constructed with local rubble and is oblong on plan, measuring 50 feet 11 inches from east to west by 18 feet 3 inches within walls 3 feet 3 inches thick. There is a small rebuilt, lintelled window at the east end of the side walls. The entrance is in the south wall towards the western end.

In the north wall is a tomb recess, merely 5 feet 4 inches in length, with a moulded archivolt of freestone. In the back of the recess are two freestone panels. The upper bears the date 1641 and initials D R linked by a Y-shaped ligature. The lower panel is armorial. Centred in the upper part is an eagle, flanked on the dexter side by a hand grasping a wheel cross. On the sinister side is a lion rampant. In the lower dexter corner is a galley, and a triple towered castle fills the sinister corner. The church is utilised as a burial ground, and some of the modern graves are provided with cover slabs and headstones removed from earlier interments. Of these are the following:

(a) [NM48NE 19.01] Figs. 302-3. A cross-shaft of slate 6 feet 1 inch in length, 1 foot 1 inch wide at top and 1 foot 5 inches wide at bottom by 4½ inches thick. The front bears a finely executed debased vine pattern terminating at the foot in opposed winged animals; and on the back is a scrollwork similar in detail, though differing in arrangement, while the terminal animals are not winged.

(b) [NM48NE 24.05] A fragment of a cross-shaft 2 feet 9 inches in height, 1 foot 4 inches in breadth by 2 ½ inches thick bears a Greek cross, with widened ends, in a circle 1 foot 2 inches in diameter

(c) A cross-shaft of slate, very weatherworn and fractured, measures 5 feet 7 inches by 1 foot 8 inches. On the upper surface are traces of scrollwork with animal figures.

(d) A fragment of a cross-shaft of hard freestone, 1 foot 9 inches by 1 foot 1 inch, bears a panel inscribed with a late key pattern.

John Moydartach, Captain of Clanranald in the second half of the sixteenth century, is said to have erected the church at Kildonnan (Book of Clanranald in Reliquiæ Celticæ, ii., p. 171).

RCAHMS 1928, visited 8 July 1925.

OS map: Island of Eigg (Inverness - shire) lxxiii.

Field Visit (5 July 2001)

This late medieval cross shaft was re-erected in the 1930s on a new concrete plinth in the burial ground at Kildonnan, about 30m to the SE of St Donnan’s Church (NM48NE 19.00). The cross head at the foot of the plinth is constructed of concrete and may be based on the Oronsay Cross (NR38NW 1).

(EIGG 01 858)

Visited by RCAHMS (SDB) 5 July 2001


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