Kildalton Cross

The parish of Kildalton, of which the church was dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, forms the south-east side of the island of Islay. The original church of the parish stood at Kildalton, a few miles south-west from the entrance to the sound of Islay, where its cemetery, walls, altar, and font still remain.

The large cross in these plates stands in a stone base in the burying-ground, on the north side of the ruined church. It differs entirely in form from all the other crosses on the west coast, and also in style of ornamentation from all except that called Martin’s Cross at Iona and the cross at Keils, which it greatly resembles in many of its details, but is richer than either of them. It partakes very much of the character of the Irish crosses — especially in the length of the arms and in the circle which connects them with the stem; and in outline and some details it may be compared with the south cross at Clonmacnoise. The disengaged circle, which is so common on the Irish crosses, occurs only on two of the Scotch ones — viz., the present example, and Martin’s Cross just referred to. It has been elsewhere remarked that on the cross slabs on the east coast this circle appears as if in embryo on the slab, preparatory to the monument being shaped into the form of a cross with the circle cut into a free ornamented band.

Kildalton Cross, Plate XXXVI, Sculptured Stones of Scotland, Vol. 2, 1856.
Kildalton Cross, Plate XXXVI, Sculptured Stones of Scotland, Vol. 2, 1856.

On the east side of the cross the figure of the Blessed Virgin and Holy Child, with a male figure on either side, is cut, and at the extremities of the arms of the cross are groups of figures apparently of ecclesiastics. This cross is, in my opinion, of a style greatly earlier than the class of monuments represented by that at Campbelton, and comes much nearer in character to the Irish examples, which are ascribed to the tenth and eleventh centuries.

The smaller cross, of which the shaft is unsculptured, stands on the outside of the churchyard.

Kildalton Cross, Plate XXXVII, Sculptured Stones of Scotland, Vol. 2, 1856.
Kildalton Cross, Plate XXXVII, Sculptured Stones of Scotland, Vol. 2, 1856.

On the hill of Dun Borreraig are the ruins of a circular hill-fort 52 feet in diameter inside, with walls 12 feet thick, a gallery within the walls, and a stone bench 2 feet high round the area. Near the bay of Knock are two large upright flags called “The Two Stones of Islay.” Monumental stones, as well as cairns and harrows, occur, and stone and brass [bronze] hatchet-shaped weapons or celts, elfshots, or flint arrow-heads, and brass fibulae, have been frequently dug up.

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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