Jun. 24th, 2012

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Some funerary monuments now, contemporary with the later re-use of Ardchattan priory church as the local parish church.

From 1602 onwards, Ardchattan Priory was associated with the Campbell family, who converted the conventual buildings into the private dwelling place that survives today.  Small wonder, then, that the Campbell presence is still evident today:-

Sadly, I'm hopeless with heraldic terms.  Heraldry's like architecture: it merits a lifetime of studying to handle it competently, and life's too short for that, I fear.  Unless you're a lawyer trying to get employment as a herald or Lord Lyon King of Arms (yes, these ceremonial roles still exist, and yes, their incumbents are still responsible for ensuring that heraldry is managed properly and correctly in the modern world!) Since I'm not a heraldry buff, I can't remember what it is when arms are impaled, or whatever: I've tried previously to get au fait with this stuff (you have to, if you've got any kind of interest in medieval history), but I find it's one of those things that you read up on, think 'aha! That's it!! I understand!!!' then promptly forget a week later.

What I can tell you is that the carved stone pictured above (dated to 16-something or other) belongs to a cadet branch of the Campbell clan.  The shield is subdivided into four panels, each featuring a miniaturised version of the Campbell coat-of-arms (in glorious technicolour, black triangles alternate with gold ones. There is of course an official name for this pattern of triangles, with sable and or being the official names for black and gold. Since heraldry is a visual representation of genealogy, a visiting member of the seventeenth century nobility would have taken one look at the stone and understood exactly where this family ranked in relation to their parent house, the Campell earls, as I think they still were at the time.

Another later addition to the church is this mausoleum, again of fairly early (that is, seventeenth or eighteenth century date):-

I particularly like the skulls and crossed long bones which leave you in no doubt that this little mortuary house or enclosure is a place where the dead rest in eternal repose...

Viewed from another angle, the join between the two phases of masonry is clearly evident, with the sixteenth century church masonry visible to the right (spot the rope moulding running along the wall) and the later mortuary enclosure appearing plainer in comparison:-

Monuments must have been scattered throughout the old churchyard, but attempts to move them into specific areas are evident.  This bunch of table tombs are now crowded uncomfortably into one of the side aisles.  Which is a shame, because it makes it quite hard to study them properly...


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