Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

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).

Wamphray Church

Cross (Early Medieval)

Site Name Wamphray Church

Classification Cross (Early Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Wamphray Parish Church And Churchyard; Wamphray, Old Parish Church

Canmore ID 319260

Site Number NY19NW 16.01

NGR NY 1305 9646

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

Toggle Aerial | View on large map

Digital Images

Administrative Areas

  • Council Dumfries And Galloway
  • Parish Wamphray
  • Former Region Dumfries And Galloway
  • Former District Annandale And Eskdale
  • Former County Dumfries-shire


Wamphray, Dumfriesshire, cross-shaft fragment

Measurements: H 1.25, W 0.48m, D c 0.27

Stone type: yellow sandstone

Place of discovery: NY 1305 9646

Present location: re-used as lintel above west door of nineteenth-century church.

Evidence for discovery: D Christison drew Allen’s attention to the stone in 1898, but a rubbing of the stone had been sent to SAS ‘many years ago’ (RB 218). The stone was cleaned in the late 1960s. There was an earlier church on the site, which lies close to the confluence of the Wamphray Water and the Kirk Burn.

Present condition: some edge damage but unworn.


Part of a cross-shaft neatly trimmed so as to show two panels of ornament on each broad face. The whole of face A is visible, but only part of faces C and D and nothing of face B. The shaft has cable mouldings at the edges, and the panels are framed by cable mouldings. On face A, the upper panel contains a medallion of interlocking plant scroll in a cruciform design within a cable moulded frame, with three-leaf terminals to each scroll. Outside the medallion and within each corner of the panel are foliate terminals. Filling the lower panel is an animal which has been described as a dragon but which has no specifically dragon-like features. Its snout and lappet are elongated so as to intertwine with its body, limbs and tail. Only the two nearside limbs are shown, both elongated and interwined and ending in stylised frond-like feet with long toes.

Slightly different versions of the same animal appear to be contained in each of the two panels on face C. The narrow face D has simple two-strand interlace with long glides within a cable moulded frame.

Date: early ninth century.

References: ECMS pt 3, 449-50; RCAHMS 1997, no 1769, 256.

Desk-based information compiled by A Ritchie 2019


Reference (1925)

A Christian grave-slab, with Anglian leaf scrolls and early type, but distinctly Norse, dragon, dating from soon after AD 950 or 960, (W G Collingwood 1921) which is set up over the door of Wamphray Church, (RCAHMS 1920) clearly 'indicates that some Norse settler, obviously a man of substance and local position, was given Christian burial near here.'

R R C Reid 1925.

Reference (1968)

This slab has now been cleaned. During cleaning it was noticed that it is an upright gravestone of Viking type. The side of the stone is decorated with a modified 2-cord plait, and the back-built into the church wall, but now partly exposed-shows two dragons. The stone is traditionally said to have come from chapel site NY19NW 9.

J Williams 1968

Field Visit (31 March 1972)

Located above church door at NY 1305 9646.

Visited by OS (R D) 31 March 1972

Field Visit (31 August 1978)

No change to previous field report.

Visited by OS (M J F) 31 August 1978.

Field Visit (April 1990)

Nothing is visible of the old parish church of Wamphray, which stood in the burial-ground on probably much the same site as the present church (built in 1834). Within the burial-ground there are a number of 18th-century gravestones, and several very fine 19th-century funerary monuments, including the burial-enclosure of Dr John Rogerson (1741-1823), first physician to the emperor of Russia.

Incorporated as a lintel over the W door to the church there is a fragment of an Anglo-Scandinavian cross-shaft. Its provenance is unknown, but it is said to have come from the site of a chapel at Barneygill (NY19NW 9). The front of the slab is divided into two panels by a cable moulding. The left panel is filled with a symmetrical knot formed by the interlacing of four plant scrolls, and that on the right by a backward-biting quadruped. The reverse of the slab is largely obscured, but, from a hand-hole cut through the plaster strapwork to the rear of the lintel, some detail can be tenatatively made out. This side of the slab also appears to have been divided into two frames, and within each there is a quadruped of like form to that on the front, with minor variations in knotwork in the treatment of the limbs. The exposed side of the slab bears three interlace loops with long glides, and is severely weathered.

Visited by RCAHMS (IMS, PC), April 1990.


MyCanmore Image Contributions

Contribute an Image

MyCanmore Text Contributions