Monday, July 28, 2008

Pennies from heaven in Kildalton church yard.

After setting up camp, we went for a little walk in the gentle countryside which backs the SE corner of Islay's coastline.

At the crest of a hill we came across the ancient churchyard of Kildalton.

The churchyard contains the Kildalton Cross. This is one of the finest early Christian crosses in the British Isles. It was carved in the 8th century and so is nearly 1200 years old. It is believed the sculptors came from Iona. It is remarkably well preserved for such an ancient sculpture. The nearby church dates from the 12th century.

The east side of the cross has scenes depicting the Virgin and Child with attendant angels, Cain murdering Abel, the Sacrifice of Isaac and David killing the Lion.

The west side of the cross has four carved lions.

At the foot and hidden on small ledges on the cross there is a collection of pennies, just enough for a round of Guinness!.

The church fell into disuse in the 17th century but the graveyard continued to be used until the late 19th century. In addition to medieval grave slabs there are more modern ones such as this one which is covered in rich coloured lichen. The deceased, Robert Cameron, either lived or worked at the now abandoned settlement of Proaig, which we had visited earlier in the day.

We now felt we had learned a little more about the countryside of Islay, which we were paddling round.


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