The excavation and conservation of a Thirteenth-century tombstone on the ruins of Dundrennan Abbey in southwest Scotland revealed that the carving could illustrate the assassination of a medieval abbot, in keeping with archaeologists at Historic Setting Scotland (HES).
Dundrennan, which means “hill of thorns” in Gaelic, is a Cistercian monastery relationship again to the twelfth century. It’s maybe most well-known for internet hosting Mary, Queen of Scots on her final evening within the nation, earlier than she fled to England in 1568.
The not too long ago recovered headstone exhibits an unknown abbot holding a crosier—a workers held by a bishop or apostle—in a single hand whereas clutching his chest with the opposite, a dagger lodged into his coronary heart. He stands atop a miniaturized male determine whose entrails are spilling out of his torso.
Adrian Cox, an archaeologist previously of the cultural assets staff at HES, believes this might characterize a wounded or assassinated abbot with the small determine beneath him representing his assailant. “The symbolism is quite poignant,” stated Cox, describing the carving in a publish for HES, and provides that “the pointed finish of the abbot’s crosier rests on [the assailant’s] head.” In the end, he writes, the carving depicts “the abbot as triumphant over his assailant in perpetuity.”
The ornate workers signifies the abbot’s standing as a high-ranking church official. He additionally wears a monk’s behavior, and a flower seems beside his head—a typical image of the Cistercian order. The headstone is certainly one of a number of memorials on the abbey, the place native monks and different leaders had been usually buried.
The carved stone would have initially coated the opening to the abbot’s tomb chest. Conservation therapies began in 2015 made the carvings extra legible and highlighted their grisly theme. “Because of the work carried out by our conservation consultants, the small print of this quite gory carving will be seen with higher readability,” stated Cox.
“It might even characterize a biblical story or fable,” stated Rachel Pickering, senior cultural assets advisor at HES, in an e-mail to ARTnews. “We don’t know the unique location of the effigy both,” she explains. “It was ‘found’ on the location in 1838 [in] the chapter home and later moved right into a blocked doorway within the nave.”
The chapter home was part of the monastery the place monks gathered for every day readings and listened to the abbot converse. “Effigies of higher-ranking clerics are widespread at medieval ecclesiastic websites, however such an outline is kind of uncommon,” Pickering added.
Excavation and restoration works have revealed over 1,000 items of carved stone at Dundrennan Abbey, together with remnants of what was as soon as an elaborate vaulted ceiling.
The architectural stays of the abbey are nonetheless seen to today, together with numerous doorways, arches, and home windows. Guests can entry the abbey, which was deserted after the Scottish Reformation within the sixteenth century, to view the shows of grave markers and different carvings.