MacMillan’s Cross at Kilmory

MacMillan's Cross, Plate XXXIII, Sculptured Stones of Scotland, Vol. 2, 1856.
MacMillan’s Cross, Plate XXXIII, Sculptured Stones of Scotland, Vol. 2, 1856.


Detail of inscription on the rear face of MacMillan's Cross.
Detail of inscription on the rear face of MacMillan’s Cross.

The chapel of Kilmorie, in South Knapdale, has been already referred to as having traditionally been erected by St. Charmaig (Cormac). Its walls are still almost complete, and it is surrounded by a burying-ground. In both the chapel and graveyard are many slabs ornamented with the sword and shears. The cross figured in this Plate is in the churchyard. On one side is represented the crucifixion of our Lord, with figures which may be meant for the Blessed Virgin and St. John. Beneath is a two-handed sword. On the other side of the shaft is a stag-hunt, the dogs being represented with collars, as on some of the early east cross slabs, and lower down is an armed man holding in his hand a battle-axe, with a large horn suspended from his shoulder. Beneath his feet is the inscription — HEC EST CRVX ALEXANDRI MACMVLEN. The Macmillans, according to their traditions, were connected with the clan Chattan, and a branch of them possessed the greater part of Southern Knapdale, where their chief was known under the title of Macmillan of Knap; but although they were at a very early period in Knapdale, they probably obtained the greater part of their possessions there by marriage with the heiress of the chief of the Macneils in the sixteenth century. To an early part of this century the cross is probably to be ascribed. A drawing and notice of this monument occurs in Arch├Žologia Scotica, vol. iv. p. 377.

Sculptured Stones of Scotland, Vol. 2, 1856.

Published by Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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  1. Wonderful blog! I’ve read elsewhere that this cross dates to the late 1400’s, but the style of carving on it and some of the imagery (a sword, a hunting scene) suggests earlier centuries, don’t they? The church was well established in the 15th century and wasn’t tolerant of non-Christian traditions. Perhaps earlier carving motifs persisted in out of the way places! I’m also drawn to what I perceive in the cross as being a Norse-Gaelic hybrid effect. The Norwegian vikings raided and ruled areas around Kintyre from roughly the 8th to the 13th century, and both cultures shared a love for knot work carving. Finally, it’s sad to me in a way – though I understand the reasoning – that grave slabs were removed and brought into the chapel for reasons of safety. I picture someone being buried centuries ago, with loved ones erecting a monument over his or her remains. They intended it to be there “forever”, telling a story about the person who once lived, not displayed as an “art piece”, disconnected from that life and their grief.

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