Subscribe to Archaeology

Medieval Carving in Scotland May Record Monk’s Murder

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Scotland Abbey CarvingDUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY, SCOTLAND—The Scotsman reports that restoration of a thirteenth-century carving from Dundrennan Abbey, a ruin located in Scotland’s western uplands, has revealed an image that may record the assassination of one of the abbey’s leaders. The carving includes a figure of a man wearing a monastic habit and holding an abbot’s long staff, or crosier, with a dagger penetrating his chest. A smaller figure at the monk’s feet features a gash below his waist with entrails spilling from the wound. The abbot’s croiser rests on the man’s head. The carving probably once covered a tomb chest, according to archaeologist Adrian Cox of Historic Environment Scotland. “The small figure at [the abbot’s] feet likely represents his assailant. The symbolism is rather poignant, the scene depicting the abbot as triumphant over his assailant in perpetuity,” Cox said. Cistercian monks inhabited the abbey for more than 400 years before it fell out of use during the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century. To read about archaeology on Scotland's monastery island of Iona, go to "Fit for a Saint."

Advertisement

Advertisement


Advertisement