Monday, April 13, 2015

The Carved Stones of Eigg - 2

You will find several interesting carved stones in the ruin of Kildonnan church. One is a beautiful 8th century cross stone; four equal arms with barred ends contained within a recessed circle.

The cross and the Sheela (or is she an angel?)
Behind the cross, and mounted in her own little house on the church wall, is the Kildonnan figure. As her hands are posed across her lap, some think she may be a sheela-na-gig. But others call her an angel, for what appear to be large wings on each side of her head. But the 'wings' could be depictions of either large ears, or a good head of hair. See the 'Kildonan' page on for more on this mysterious figure.

The Kildonnan figure - is she a Sheela?
On the side of the church is the 16th century tomb of the piper Raghnall Mac Ailein Oig, which is marked by an elaborately carved Clanranald shield (see photo below). I have seen similar carved shields at Kilmory Church in Arisaig, and the Kildonnan museum in South Uist. The Uist stone has an interesting history. In 1990 it was stolen from its location in Howmore. Then, in 1995, when an apartment in London was being cleaned out after its tenant died, the stone was found. In 1999 it was returned to S. Uist, where it is now safely held at the museum. (See this link for a photo of the Howmore stone.) Next time we'll visit the Kildonnan cross-shrine; the most intriguing carved stone on Eigg.

Clanranald Shield at Kildonnan

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