Tomnahurich graveyard, Inverness (93)

The cross might have been the very first symbol man used. A line and another line crossing it – a saltire (the Scottish flag to this day); like a cross to mark a spot or to draw attention to something. The cross must have been the first stage of written communication man has developed.

A beautiful thought wandering over a graveyard: the cross – first sign and last.

Crosses come in various materials on graveyards: stone, wood, iron. The meaning remains the same, whatever the material.

Although early Christians probably used the sign of a fish to signify their faith in the beginning, the cross has become the symbol proper for Christianity . Both are not to be separated anymore.

Cille Choirill (120)

But there are different kinds of crosses.

Blair Atholl

The so-called cross pattée on the left of the two headstones, is better known as the Maltese cross of the Templers, the Iron cross of the German Empire (Eisernes Kreuz) or in fact the Bolnisi cross, a Georgian cross form that dates back to the 5th century.

Cille Choirill, Roy Bridge

The new Coptic cross is mostly used in the Orthodox church. Many Copts sport it tattooed on their right arm. Two bold lines intersecting at a right angle form the main body of the Coptic cross. At each end three points depict trinity, the altogether twelve points represent the twelve apostles.

Cille Choirill (86)

The budded cross is also known as the Apostle’s cross. Each arm ends with three buds of circular shape representing trinity. This kind of cross might be an interpretation of early Celtic crosses used by druids, the circular or round shape there representing the three basic  spheres of human existence: earth, sky and sea.

Trumpan Graveyard. Isle of Skye

The Celtic Cross is very common on Scottish graveyards. Very often a Celtic High Cross marks a grave or event of importance. A very distinct cross, found in Ireland and Scotland but hardly anywhere else, with the exception of America, where they are often used as single monuments.

Kilmonivaig Graveyard, Spean Bridge (8)

The Celtic Cross was in Scotland long before Christianity. A sign of pagan belief, later adopted into the new Christianity brought by St. Columba from Ireland to Scotland in the 6th century.

Tomnahurich graveyard, Inverness (79)

Some believe the circle surrounding the cross is a sign of eternity, a sun metaphor. Others see a pagan moon. Some believe the nimbus represents  female fertility. Women played a much stronger part in the Celtic tradition than they ever have in Christian or Muslim forms of belief.

Cille Choirill, Roy Bridge

Whatever the round part of the Celtic Cross represents, as a whole the Celtic Cross is a mighty symbol of life, often richly decorated with interlaced lines, knots and flowers. Designs which have made it on many skins all over the world. Celtic crosses are a common in jewellery and tattoos. Neo-Pagans have adopted the design in a more fluent, more wavelike form.

celtic cross Eilean Munde

The traditional Celtic Crosses stands alone, facing sun and moon, symbolising life and continuity while light and darkness touch the graves in eternal alteration.

2 thoughts on “crosses

Add yours

  1. Hi there and thank you for sharing your wonderful knowledge here, I hope you can help me with a query I have: recently I was in Braemar and visited the cemetery, while there, I noted that there are several graves where there a crosses above the grave with a very definite and destinctive X shape. I have never seen this in other cemeteries I have visited, can you advise me if you have any knowledge of these types of grave decor? I have no idea the time period as the graves were too old to be able to read.

    1. Oh that sounds interesting! I have not been to Braemar cemetery but it is on my list. The X shape is very unusual, it is a St Andrew’s cross, the saint died on a cross like this. My associations: Scotland, martyrdom, Roman Catholic. Did you take any pictures?
      Kind regards, Nellie

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