A group of early Christian stones were discovered in the 19th century during construction of a family mortuary chapel in Kirkmadrine.
Kirkmadrine is situated in the Rhins of Galloway in the Western Sottish borders and the region is rich in history.
The Kirkmadrine stones are recognised as the remains of an early christian cemetery and date from the 5th to 12th centuries AD. Three of them are among the oldest Christian monuments in Scotland; only the Parish of Whithorn has an older stone.
Other than these memorial stones, there is no trace of the early Christian church or cemetery, nor the medieval parish church which succeeded it.
The present chapel was built at the end of the 19th century as a family burial chapel by Lady MacTaggart Stewart of Ardwell in the style of a 12th century Romanesque church of Cruggleton, near Whithorn.
The oldest stone is a pillar stone dating to the 5th century AD. The cross inside the circle has a hook on the top limb, to represent the Greek Chi-rho (ch r), the first two letters of Christ’s name. Below the circle is a Latin inscription;
HIC LACENT S(AN)C(T)I ET PRAE CIPUI SACER DOTES IDES VIVENTIUS ET MAVORIUS :Here lie the holy chief priests, Ides, Viventius and Mavorius”.
One of the later stones is thought to date from the 12th century and is quite crudely carved.
The stones are on display in a glass fronted porch attached to the MacTaggart Stewart memorial chapel and can be reached by a footpath leading from a small parking area on the roadside. An Historic Scotland waymarker points the way.
Gravestonepix.com – The MacTaggart Stewarts of Ardwell family burial chapel
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