Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Early Christian carved stones

The presence of an early Christian church or monastery in Scotland is often marked by carved stones, crosses, cross-slabs and gravestones.

The magnificent high crosses of the 8th century and later in Argyll, Islay andIona combined the Cross - the symbol of Christianity - with a circle which may have represented the sun or the moon. These ‘Celtic crosses’ may show early Christianity in Scotland incorporating symbols from the old pagan faiths.

The most important early-8th century Anglian cross is the Ruthwell Cross, Dumfriesshire. The carvings on the Ruthwell Cross include biblical scenes, vines and verses from the poem ‘The Dream of the Rood’ carved in Anglo-Saxon runes and Latin letters.

Less vulnerable to destruction were the cross-slabs, with space for decoration around a sculpted cross. By the 9th and 10th centuries traditional Pictish symbolswere joined by Christian symbols demonstrating changes in Pictish culture.

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