This slim, stone pillar is the shaft of an early mediaeval Celtic cross. It stands in the wind-swept burial ground of a chapel dedicated to St Donnan, patron saint of the island of Eigg.
Although the chapel has long been roofless, the burial ground is still in use, with neat rows of smooth granite and marble headstones among the older memorials of local stone.
The cross shaft, thought to date to the 14th century, is carved with an elaborate pattern of interlocking vines. Seven centuries of weathering have softened and blurred the detail but it’s still possible to see the hint of human and animal figures hidden among the curves of the leaves, in a decorative tradition that can be traced back to the monastery of Iona.
In my three images of the cross shaft, the portrait view shows the most detail – open the full size image and zoom in – but the landscape view gives more sense of the wide open view, across the sheep pasture to the sea. On a calm, blue sky day this is a serenely beautiful place.
The current chapel on this site, a simple stone box with walls three feet thick, was built in the 16th century, relatively recently in terms of island history. According to local tradition the chapel stands where Donnan, an Irish monk, built his cell or hermitage around 600 AD, hence the name of this part of the island, Kildonnan. Donnan’s mission to bring Christianity to the Picts ended in 617 when he was martyred by bandits with fifty two of his followers killed alongside him. Tradition offers several different stories of who these bandits were sent by.
Patti’s theme for this week’s Lens-Artists’ Challenge is One Subject Three Ways. She encourages us to ‘work the shot’ to find the most effective way to present the subject.