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Campbeltown, Old Quay Head, Campbeltown Cross

Cross (Medieval)

Site Name Campbeltown, Old Quay Head, Campbeltown Cross

Classification Cross (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Kilkivan

Canmore ID 38797

Site Number NR72SW 16

NGR NR 72048 20447

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Campbeltown
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Argyll And Bute
  • Former County Argyll

Archaeology Notes

NR72SW 16 72043 20445

(NR 7193 2036) Cross (NR)

OS 25" map, Argyllshire, (1906)

(NR 7204 2044) Cross (NR)

OS 25" map, (1964)

Cross, Campbeltown: the finest surviving example of late medieval carving in Kintyre is the cross that stands on an octagonal, stepped base at the Old Quay Head, Campbeltown. Formerly it stood in Main Street, outside the Town Hall, but it was taken down for safety during the Second World War and afterwards re-erected in its present position. The socket stone in which the shaft is set may be original, since it is made of the same distinctive material as the cross, but if so it has been re-cut to its present shape; the rest of the base is modern.

The cross is carved out of a single block of bluish-green chlorite schist, probably from the Loch Sween area, and measures 3.30m in height, 0.46m wide by 0.13m thick at the base, and 0.34m wide by 0.10m thick at the neck. The disk-head measures 0.81m in diameter exclusive of the arms. (A full description of the sculpturing is given.) The inscription, in raised Lombardic capitals, reads: HEC EST CRVX D / OMINI YUARI M(AC)H / EACHYRNA QVO(N)D / AM RECTORIS DE /KYIKECAN ET DO/ MINI ANDREE NAT / I EIVS RECTORIS / DE KILCOMAN Q / VI HANC CRVCE(M) / FIERI FACIEBAT ("This is the cross of sir Ivor MacEachern, sometime parson of Kilkivan, and of his son, Sir Andrew, parson of Kilchoman, who caused it to be made"). The place-name 'Kylkecan' is not known, and it seems probable that Kylkevan (Kilkivan) near Machrihanish, was intended: the sculptor could easily have carved a C in mistake for a V, since the Lombardic forms of these two letters are not dissimilar. If this is so, the cross presumably stood originally within or close to the grave-yard at Kilkivan (NR62SE 9) and was removed to Campbeltown, and adapted to serve as a market cross, some time after the foundation of the burgh in 1609. The cross probably dates to about 1380 (and not 1500 as has been previously suggested).

Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1865; T P White 1873; RCAHMS 1971, visited 1968.

Surveyed at 1:2500.

Visited by OS (RDL) 11 March 1963.


External Reference (20 July 1971)

Late medieval disk-headed chlorite-schist cross mounted on octagonal base.

NW (front) elevation contains carvings of religious figures, a 10-line

inscription in Lombardic capitals, and foliaceous pattern terminated by 2

beasts. SE (rear) elevation contains carved foliated cross with mermaid and

animal carvings to arms and foot.

RCAHMS Inventory ARGYLL Vol 1 (1971) p105 plate 21 T S Muir, OLD




Stewart, "Campbeltown Cross" THE KINTYRE ANTIQUARIAN &


Scheduled Ancient Monument No 249. The inscription reads "This is the

cross of Sir Ivor MacEachen, sometime parson of Kilkivan, and of his son,

Sir Andrew, parson of Kilchoman, who caused it to be made" Sir Andrew

MacEachen was promoted from Kilkivan to the church of Kilchoman, in

Islay, before 1376, and dispossessed of this benefice shortly after 1382. This

suggests that the cross originally stood within or near the graveyard at

Kilkivan. It was removed to Campbeltown and adapted to serve as a market

cross sometime after the foundation of the Burgh in 1607. It was formerly

sited outside the town hall, but was taken down during the Second World

War for safety and erected afterwards in its present position. The socket

stone appears to be original due to the similarity in the stone, but the rest of

the base is modern. This is the finest surviving example of late medieval

carving in Kintyre.

Information from Historic Scotland, 20 July 1971

Publication Account (1985)

The magnificent disc-headed cross now stands at the centre of a busy roundabout at the NE end of Main Street at the head of the Old Quay; this is not its original position, however, for it was probably brought from Kilkivan (NR 651201) in the early 17th century, and until the Second World War stood in front of the Town House, further up Main Street The cross is carved out of the distinctive schist which comes from the area of Loch Sweeni the decmative motifs are well thought out and arranged on both faces, with elaborate leaf scroll decoration on either side. Unfortunately several figures have been removed from the front of the cross creating three areas now void of decoration.

The front of the cross would have had a central figure of the crucifixion, now erased, with two unidentified saints to the top of the cross arm and St Mary and St John below. A vivid representation of St Michael slaying the dragon fills the left arm of the cross. Below the head of the cross is an empty panel and below that there was formerly a figure of a cleric with a chalice and a book, which alone now survive. The inscription which helps to date the cross to the latter part of the 14th centmy reads: 'This is the cross of Sir Yvarns MacEachern, sometime parson of Kylkecan, and Sir Andreas his son, parson of Kilchoman, who caused this cross to be made'. Beneath the inscription is a rather erratic panel of foliaceous decoration terminating in confronted beasts.

On the back of the cross the layout of the main panels of foliaceous or interlace decoration is highlighted by a series of paired figures: at the top there is a mermaid and sea monster, at the arms there are pairs of animals, and finally, at the base of the cross there are two pairs of confronted animals, now rather worn.

Information from ‘Exploring Scotland’s Heritage: Argyll and the Western Isles’, (1985).


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