Historic Impressions

Scottish and Pictish Artifacts


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Kildalton Cross

Kildalton Cross, Scotland

This magnificent 8th century Celtic high cross from the Western Isle of Islay depicts the Virgin and Child with Biblical scenes of Daniel and the lions, Cain and Abel, and Abraham and Isaac.  It was created by monks connected with the monastery at Iona.  The Iona monastery was founded by St. Columba, one of the patron saints of Ireland and a key evangelistic figure in early Scotland.  At this time, Iona was one of the most important Christian centers in the world.  The cross is the finest surviving sculpture of the Iona School.


10" x 5"
greystone



Scottish Luckenbooth Emblem

Scottish Luckenbooth Emblem

Two hearts entwined and crowned is worn as a symbol of love and troth in Scotland.   They were once sold by the "locked booth" merchants of Edinburgh and Mary Queen of Scots is said to have given one designed with her monogram within the hearts to Lord Darnley as a betrothal present.   This sculptural version includes the cross of St. Andrew in the crown and thistles, which are the legendary protectors of Scotland.   Their thorns impaled Viking invaders, whose screams of pain awoke the Scots who then drove away the marauders.


8" x 6.5"
earthtone, blue/mauve



St. Martin's Cross, East Face

St. Martin's Cross, East Face

From Iona, Scotland, this 8th century Celtic cross features a sun design with serpent bosses.   The serpent symbolized regeneration and healing.  Christ was the sun, the Light of the World.


10.75" x 3.25"
greystone



St. Martin's Cross, West Face

St. Martin's Cross, West Face

The west face of this notable 8th century Celtic cross stands on the Isle of Iona, site of Iona Monastery, founded in the 6th century by St. Columba, one of the patron saints of Ireland.  It is the only surviving Celtic cross to feature the Virgin and Child in the center.  Also shown are scenes of Daniel and the Lions, Abraham and Isaac, Moses and the Tablets and David and the Musicians.


10.75" x 3.25"
greystone



St. Madoes Cross

St. Madoes Cross

This magnificent 9th century Celtic cross is taken from one of the finest surviving Class II Pictish monuments in Scotland.  Found around 1850 in the River Tay near Perth, it was obviously an important project created by a master mason.  It consists of a central nest of spiral bosses with various key patterns and Celtic knotwork in the arms and shaft.  Celtic knotwork alludes to the interconnected nature of life, spirals symbolize movement and energy and the key patterns were a Greek influence.


14" x 7.5"
greystone



Aberlemno Cross Slab

Aberlemno Cross Slab

The 8th century cross in the Aberlemno kirk yard of the Angus region of Scotland is one of the finest surviving examples of Class II Pictish sculpture and is thought to commemorate the important Battle of Nechtansmere fought in 685 A.D. in which King Brude mac Bili and his warriors defeated and killed the Anglian King Ecgfrid.  This side depicts interlaced sea horses, birds and beasts as the backdrop for an intricately interlaced cross with three Celtic knots in the shaft and a center device of seven triple spirals.  The careful design of the cross probably had great meaning to initiated Christians.  The zoomorphic motifs in the background may remind the viewer of the varied wildlife of Scotland or serve as some sort of totem symbols.


11.5" x 6.75"
greystone, red sandstone



Aberlemno Cross

Aberlemno Cross

This cross is the central device of the famous 8th century Pictish cross slab in Aberlemno Kirk yard in the Angus region of Scotland.  It consists of intricate Celtic interlace which includes three Celtic knots in the shaft and a center device of seven triple spirals.  While the slab from which this cross is taken includes zoomorphic designs, crosses designed by the Picts almost never included any figurative sculpture although it is not known why this particular artistic convention existed.


11.5" x 5"
greystone



Griffin with Vine Tail

Griffin with Vine Tail

The griffin with Saxon-style vine tail can be found on the sacred isle of Iona, Scotland, where an important monastery was founded in the 6th century by St. Columba, patron saint of Ireland and early Christian evangelist of Scotland.  The griffin is the surviving shaft of a 15th century West Highland cross on which the opposite side is a Viking ship. The griffin is a heraldic mythical beast and was considered a fierce guardian.  The vine is best known as a symbol of Christ, similar to the tree of life symbol which is even more ancient.


14" x 4"
greystone



Pict with Drinking Horn

Pict with Drinking Horn

This 9th century warrior of the Pictish tribe drinks from an eagle, the ancient symbol of power.  From Invergowrie, Scotland and now in the Museum of Scotland, it is an unusually droll carving, certainly a caricature, perhaps in the category of the Scandinavian insult stones, which were carved as an artistic and bloodless "thumbing of the nose" to a perceived insult.  It is the earliest artistic rendering of drinking on Scottish stones.


8" x 6"
greystone



Skull and Crossbones with Sands of Time

Skull and Crossbones with Sands of Time

Symbols of mortality and Viking runes are powerfully carved in this 17th century Scottish grave slab.  Dedicated to a member of the Campbell and Roy clans.  These symbols also have a relationship to the Knights Templar and the early Masonic order and are found in many old graveyards in Scotland.


9.25" x 6.5"
greystone



Scottish Green Man

Scottish Green Man

This compelling carving is based on a 15th century misericord (choir stall carving) in Dunblane Cathedral, Scotland.  The green man was a symbol of regeneration and oneness with the earth.  Misericords were carvings underneath the seats of the choir stalls in medieval churches and hence featured many secular and pagan themes such as the green man.  Dunblane Cathedral was founded by King David I in the 13th century and is named after St. Blane who Christianized this area of Scotland in the 6th century.


9.5" x 4"
earthtones, walnut woodtone



Inchbrayok Cross

Inchbrayok Cross

This 10th century Scottish cross, richly decorated with Celtic spirals and labyrinths, is dedicated to the Welsh-born St. Brioc and is located in the Montrose region of Angus, Scotland.  It is taken from a slab chronicling the life of Samson.  Within the tradition of the Pictish cross slabs, it is a late and rustic example, carved at a time in which artistic forces were moving away from the distinctive symbolism and style of the pagan Pictish age to declare a new unified and Christian Scotland.


7.25" x 5"
greystone, green



Celtic Musicians with Cat

Celtic Musicians with Cat

Music is thought to have played a powerful role in early Scotland.  This 10th century carving from Lethendy Tower in Perthshire shows Pictish harp, Irish pipes and drum.


6.5" x 6"
greystone



Celtic Merman Cross

Celtic Merman Cross

This 10th century Picto-Scottish monument depicts a man emerging from the fish, worshipped by Picts and the early symbol of Christ, with arms extended into spirals of life and energy.  It is a truly strong and unique design which although thought to have been carved by a monastery, also has obvious phallic overtones.


9" x 3"
greystone



Scottish Angel

Scottish Angel

This plump little cherub is taken from a Victorian memorial in Perthshire, Scotland, an area of rolling hills and glistening trout streams.


6" x 5"
greystone



Scottish Thistle

Scottish Thistle

Taken from a decorative element in a Scottish historic house, designs like this symbol of Scotland were popular in the 19th century.  According to legend, the thistle became the symbol of Scotland when this thorny plant pierced the feet of marauding Vikings who were attempting to creep ashore at night.  Their screams of pain alerted the Scots to their presence and defeated them.


6" x 5"
mauve/green



Scottish Dancers

Scottish Dancers

This exquisite 19th century photo case depicts the Monymusk Reel, a famous Scottish dance.  Bagpipes and agrarian tools, symbolizing prosperity, are also shown.  The village of Monymusk is a quaint place in the Aberdeen region of Scotland, famous for the ancient St. Mary's Church and the Monymusk Reliquary, a fabulous Celtic artifact which once held relics of St. Columba.


5" x 4"
ivory, multi-color



Iona Cross

Iona Cross

Inspired by an elegant 8th century cross-slab from the sacred isle of Iona, Scotland, this carving features intricate symmetrical interlace ringed by a Celtic sun circle.  Iona Monastery was founded by Columba, patron saint of Ireland, and was one of the most important monasteries of early medieval times.


8.5" x 5.25"
greystone, green



Dog Biting Tail

Dog Biting Tail

This motif, a form of the ancient Celtic symbol for renewal and immortality, is taken from the 15th century MacMillan's Cross, located at Kilmory in Knapdale, Scotland near the banks of Loch Sween.  The more usual manifestation of this symbol is the snake biting its tail.  The cross is considered one the finest examples of West Highland sculpture and was dedicated to Alexander MacMillan, the chief of the clan.  The dog depicted here is probably a wolfhound, used by nobles for hunting and companionship.  The dog was itself a symbol of nobility as it was illegal for the common man to own certain types of dogs.


4.75" x 4.5"
greystone



Macmillan's Cross

Macmillan's Cross

This magnificent 15th century Scottish cross is dedicated to a chief of the MacMillan clan and depicts the crucifixion scene with a sword and Celtic motifs in the shaft.


11.25" x 5"
greystone



Scottish Angel Stone

Scottish Angel Stone

This naive 17th century memorial carving is from the Lothian region of Scotland.  Similar designs made their way to America with immigrants from Scotland and Ireland.


6.25" x 4.5"
greystone



Piping Pig Gargoyle

Piping Pig Gargoyle

Possibly the most famous pig in Scotland, this porcine bagpipe- player is from a 15th century reconstruction of Melrose Abbey, where the heart of Robert the Bruce is said to be buried.


7.75" x 4"
sandstone





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