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Visiting The “Kilmartin Stones,” Medieval Scottish Warrior Graveslabs [HD Photo Doc]

Click Image To View Gallery in High Resolution

A High Definition photo doc of late medieval grave slabs in Kilmartin Church graveyard.

Kilmartin (Scottish Gaelic: Cille Mhàrtainn) is a small village in Argyll and Bute, western Scotland. It is best known as the centre of Kilmartin Glen, an area with one of the richest concentrations of prehistoric monuments and historical sites in Scotland.

Kilmartin Parish Church is a congregation of the Church of Scotland. The present church building was designed by architect James Gordon Davis and opened in 1835, though there had been earlier churches on the site. The churchyard has an important collection of early Christian and medieval carved stones, known as the “Kilmartin Stones” in the ‘West Highland’ style, dating between the 14th and early 16th centuries.

Originally, the stones would have been laid flat on the ground to cover a grave. After the Reformation, however, many of the stones were moved, and in 1956 they were moved inside a shelter to protect them from the weather. The symbolism of the motifs carved onto the slabs is the subject of much discussion and speculation. Many feature swords or claymores, some alone, others with surrounding designs of twining or interlaced foliage. Several depict armed men. Other motifs include crosses, fantastic animals and shears; a comb appears with shears on one stone.

The location and stones  rose to fame in the early 1980s  when they were mentioned in the best selling book “Holy Blood Holy Grail”written by Lincoln, Bagient and Leigh, who claimed the grave slabs were proof of Knights Templar activity in the region at the time of Robert The Bruce [early 14th Century]. It is generally thought by most historians that, although some of the dead could be classed as “knights”, none of them were Templars.  The grave slabs are those of Scottish noblemen and landowners.

You can visit our HighRes photo gallery of enhanced images to study the detail of the slabs  <<HERE>>


Click Image To View Gallery In High Resolution

In the churchyard are a large collection of late medieval gravestones in the ‘West Highland’ style, dating between the 14th and early 16th centuries. Many are marked by figures of warriors in contemporary dress with spears and swords, along with figures of fantastic animals, foliage and interlace patterns. None are inscribed, so the identities of the persons commemorated are unknown. They can, however, be taken to be the monuments of the local landowning or minor noble class in late medieval times.

You can visit our HighRes photo gallery of enhanced images to study the patterns and detail of the slabs  <<HERE>>

Kilmartin Church was evidently an important burial site, and the graveslabs of the ‘Loch Awe school’ of carving may have been carved in a workshop at or near Kilmartin. The swords shown on many of the stones refer to warrior (or, more broadly, social) status, and have no connection with the Templars or other medieval military orders, as is sometimes suggested. Women are commemorated on some of the stones, their symbol often being the shears (referring to household activities).

The Church of Scotland minister at Kilmartin between 1655-87 was John Duncanson (c.1630–1687) who was appointed in 1655, removed in 1662 when episcopacy was re-established but restored in 1670.[3] His son Major Robert Duncanson was a key figure in the 1692 Glencoe Massacre.

from wikipedia

You can visit our HighRes photo gallery of enhanced images to study the detail of the slabs  <<HERE>>

A short sequence of “behind the scenes ” video footage of producing the High Definition photo doc, of late medieval grave slabs, in Kilmartin Church graveyard….or “A perfect photo opportunity:  hanging about a graveyard at night to get the Kilmartin Stones  in the right  light” 🙂


[Troy is an author, researcher, filmmaker and artist living in Glasgow Scotland]

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