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A missing figure on slab fragment no 2 from Monifieth, Angus, the a’Chill Cross, Canna, and some implications of the development of a variant form of the Virgin’s hairstyle and dress in early medieval Scotland

A missing figure on slab fragment no 2 from Monifieth, Angus, the a’Chill Cross, Canna, and some implications of the development of a variant form of the Virgin’s hairstyle and dress in early medieval Scotland

Trench- Jellicoe, Ross

Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 129 (1999), 597-647

ABSTRACT
Monifieth, a late Pictish-style slab, is decorated with a figure identified as female by the position of
her brooch. Part of the brooch is missing and the loss is explained by reference to a Virgin and Child
scene on the a’Chill Cross, Canna, which suggests the damaged area of Monifieth originally
represented a Christ-child of Adorational type. The unusual form of the Virgin’s hairstyle at both
Canna and Monifieth is also analysed within the context of the development of lona school
iconography. Seven lozenge insignia are identified and examined alongside the brooches. The
decoration of the Canna cross is seen to derive from iconography in Angus centred on Aberlemno
which is also the epicentre of Madonna icons evolving from lona models. Aberlemno is thus deduced
to be the centre of a ninth-century Columban mission, with Canna as an outpost, for the conversion
of Viking western Scotland.

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