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Iona, Maclean's Cross

Cross (15th Century)

Site Name Iona, Maclean's Cross

Classification Cross (15th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Mclean's Cross

Canmore ID 21616

Site Number NM22SE 1

NGR NM 28542 24231

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/21616

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Kilfinichen And Kilvickeon
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NM2SE 1 28542 24231

(NM 2853 2422) Maclean's Cross (NR)

OS 25" map (1900)

A fine, Hebridean-type, free-standing cross of the 15th c, displaying a crucifixion and foliaceous interlacing. It is said to commemorate a MacLean of Duart. The present pedestal is more modern than the cross itself, which may support the tradition that the cross formerly lay within the grounds of the Nunnery (NM22SE 14).

V G Childe and W D Simpson 1961; A Ritchie and E Ritchie 1934; J Morrison 1953

As described.

Visited by OS (RD) 9 June 1972.

This monument consists of a freestanding cross of 15th-century date. It stands at the junction of three medieval streets, between the Abbey and the Nunnery. It is carved with dense interlacing and entwined foliage with a depiction of Christ crucified on the W face. The foot of the E face bears the inscribed figure of a soldier on horseback and an inscription which is no longer legible. It is likely that this recorded the name of MacLean of Duart or Lochbuie, the most powerful family in the area at the time. The cross stands over 3m high.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 5 August 1998.

Activities

Field Visit (September 1980)

Maclean's Cross.

(212) This cross stands on a pedestal in what was presumably its original position on the w side of the road between the Nunnery and the Abbey, close to the former junction of three medieval streets. Carved from a thin slab of chlorite-schist, it is 3·15m high, 0·42m wide at the base and 0·27m wide at the neck ; the solid disc-head is 0·53m in diameter. The later alarms are much shorter than the upper arm, and their ends have suffered some damage since the middle of the 19th century. Each face is framed by a double roll-moulding which excludes the lateral arms and whose inner member forms a continuous circle round the disc of the cross-head.

On the front of the cross, which faces w, a representation of the Crucified Saviour occupies a multi-cusped niche contained within the disc. The figure is clothed in a long robe reaching to the ankles, and the rood is of cross-raguly form. The upper arm of the cross-head bears a fleur-de-lis, while on the left arm there was a chalice, now destroyed. The shaft is decorated with a continuous mesh of ornament composed of double- and triple-beaded plait and intertwined plant-stems. The decoration on the back of the cross similarly consists for the most part of plait work and foliaceous ornament, but at the top of the shaft there is a pair of animals and on the right arm there has been an angel. A panel at the foot of the shaft, which displays a mounted Lombardic capitals, but only an occasional letter is now visible.

A product of the Iona school, the cross probably dates to the last quarter of the 15th century in view of its close resemblance to the one erected by Duncan MacMillan at Kilmory, Knapdale, during that period. As the name suggests, it is likely that it was commissioned by a member of the Clan MacLean, the MacLeans of Duart and Lochbuie being the most influential families in the district in the 15th century. (Graham, Iona, pl. 43; SSS, 2, pls. xlii-iii; Steer and Bannerman, Monumental Sculpture, pp. 36-7, pl. 14A, B).

(224) MacLean's Cross is set on a rectangular pedestal of rubble masonry with battered sides, measuring 1·45m from N to s by 1·20m transversely and 0·6m in height. This rests on a wider footing which extends about 0·5 m to N and E, and the whole structure has been heavily repointed. The socket-stone is a plain slab of chlorite-schist, 0·96m long by 0·90m wide and 0·11 m thick, having a central socket which measures 0·43m by 0·11 m.

RCAHMS 1982, visited September 1980

Field Visit (April 1996 - May 1996)

A free-standing cross of 15th century date, it stands at the junction of three medieval streets between the Abbey and the Nunnery. It is carved with dense interlacing and entwined foliage with a depiction of Christ crucified on the W face. The foot of the E face bears the inscribed figure of a soldier on horseback and an inscription which is no longer legible. It is likely that this recorded the name of Maclean of Duart or Lochbuie.

The cross stands over 3m high.

(ION96 065)

Information from NTS (SCS) January 2016

Aerial Photography (2 June 1997)

References

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