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Iona, St Oran's Cross

Cross (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Iona, St Oran's Cross

Classification Cross (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 21656

Site Number NM22SE 4.07

NGR NM 286 244

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

NM22SE 4.7 c.286 244.

Fragments of a high cross, which it is proposed to call "St Oran's", have been assembled, though whether this cross was ever completed or stood upright for very long is uncertain.

A C Thomas 1957


Field Visit (9 June 1972)

Fragments of several crosses are in the Monastery Museum and although several of the pieces are reputed to be of St Oran's Cross, they could not be identified.

Visited by OS (RD) 9 June 1972

Reference (2001)

(Iona 80) ST ORAN'S CROSS. Recumbent in Abbey Museum; formerly in St Oran's Chapel. Fragments of a massive cross, 3.45m in surviving height and 1.99m in span, with 0.44m semicircular armpits. The top arm and shaft (whose surviving part is broken across and split in thickness) were tenoned into a transom which is broken at the centre. The shaft is of mica-granulite and the arms of a coarser mica-schist, both from the Ross of Mull. On the front (a), within a 40mm interlaced border, the shaft bears two cruciform groups of bosses, some of bird's-nest type, divided by rows of small bosses in saltire. In a panel below this and in the side-arms the same motif is combined with snakes. At the top of the shaft are the Virgin and Child between two angels whose inner wings form a canopy. The centre of the cross-head showed five bosses and to the left is a figure standing beside a leonine beast but not in conflict with it, perhaps Daniel rather than David. The right constriction is lost but in the upper one is a symmetrical pair of beasts, each with a smaller companion. The top arm bears a rich composition of spiral bosses of varying size, including four roundels which generate serpents with gaping jaws. On the back (b) each of the side-arms bears a cruciform pattern of spiral bosses diverging from four larger bosses. In the left constriction is a cloaked and seated harper, and to the right an enthroned figure facing a standing one, perhaps with a halo (? Christ and Pilate). The top arm bears six large bosses producing serpents with gaping jaws, four of which threaten a ?human head.

I Fisher 2001.

External Reference (28 October 2011)

Scheduled as element within 'The monument known as St Mary's Abbey, Iona, monastic settlement [comprising] the remains of the large early historic monastic settlement founded by St Columba in AD 563, St Martin's Cross, and parts of medieval buildings associated with the Benedictine Abbey of St Mary founded around AD 1200.'

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 28 October 2011.


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