History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: The finest medieval cross in Kintyre
The cross surface is carved with representations of religious figures, foliage patterns, grotesque beasts, sea-monsters, and a mermaid. The socket seems to be original, but the base is modern.
This is the cross of Sir Ivor MacEachern, sometime parson of Kilkivan, and of his son, Sir Andrew, parson of Kilchoman, who caused it to be made.
In the late medieval period parson were often married, and it was not unusual for a son to succeed his father as parson. It would seem then that Ivor was parson of Kilkavan, and was followed by his son Andrew, who later was raised to the parsonage of Kilchoman. Andrew was illegitimate, and had to receive a papal dispensation to accept the living of a church.
Sir Andrew MacEachern served at Kilkavan, then was promoted to Kilchoman on Islay some time before 1376. He was removed from the living of Kilkavan around 1382.
We do not know exactly when the cross was moved, but it must have been after 1609 when Campbeltown became a burgh. It was certainly before 1680 when records show a criminal named Finvall McCannill sentenced to being whipped and scourged by the common executioner at the Mercat Cross in Campbeltown.
Who Carved the Cambeltown Cross?Kintyre did have its own school of carving, based at Saddell Abbey, north of Cambeltown, but that school did not come into being until sometime around 1420, long after the Cross was carved. It seems most likely that the Campeltown Cross was carved at Iona Abbey. The style of foliated cross design on the reverse face was only carved at Iona before 1500, and the foliage style is a familiar pattern used by the Iona carvers.
Old legends, now discounted, say that the cross was carried away from Iona in stealth. Other, even more fanciful legends say that St Columba himself gave the cross. Another story says that it was carried away from Iona for safety at the height of the Reformation. That doesn't make much sense, for Kintyre was heavily Protestant during the Reformation, so carrying the cross here from Iona would be like taking it out of the frying pan into the fire.
Another theory put forward by Dr. Harvey Thomson is that the Campbeltown Cross and the superb standing cross ar Kilchoman on Islay were twins, carved at the same time, by the same hand. The mention of Kilchoman on the inscription does provide a link between the 2 locations, but the styles of the 2 crosses are not similar at all to my uneducated eye.
The cross stands in a traffic roundabout at the junction of Main Street and Old Quay Street, near the quay.
About Campbeltown Cross
Address: Old Quay Head, Kintyre, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, PA28 6ED
Attraction Type: Historic Building - Cross
Location: On a traffic island at the junction of Main Street and Old Quay Head in the centre of Campbeltown
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Davaar Island and Crucifixion Painting - 2.5 miles (Countryside)
Kilkivan Chapel and Graveyard - 4.1 miles (Historic Church)
Kildonan Dun, Kintyre - 5.9 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Saddell Abbey - 8.2 miles (Abbey)
Dunaverty Castle - 8.3 miles (Castle)
St Columba's Chapel, Holy Well, & Footprints - 8.5 miles (Historic Church)
Mull of Kintyre - 11.1 miles (Countryside)
Kilpatrick Dun - 12 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Nearest Accommodation to Campbeltown Cross:
Nearby accommodation is calculated 'as the crow flies' from Campbeltown Cross. 'Nearest' may involve a long drive up and down glens or, if you are near the coast, may include a ferry ride! Please check the property map to make sure the location is right for you.
Nearest Self Catering Cottages
Nearest Bed and Breakfasts
Tourist Information Centre
Argyll and Bute
Tel: 01586 552 056