In 1951 some 25 sculptured stones were removed from the basement of Kilberry Castle, a private residence, and placed in a purpose-built shelter for public display. In 1997 they were joined by the Kilberry Cross.
All the stones were found on the Kilberry estate, most of them apparently from the site of the medieval parish church, a little to the east of the castle.
The collection comprises three early Christian grave-slabs, all incised with crosses, eight late-medieval West Highland grave-slabs, eight late-medieval cross fragments (including the Kilberry Cross, and another depicting a kneeling female with a rosary), and seven simpler grave-slabs dating from the 1500s and 1600s.
Of the eight West Highland grave-slabs, two bear effigies of armed warriors, one named John, son of Mauritius. Mauritius is a Latinised form of the Gaelic name Muiredach or Murchad. It was common amongst the MacMurachies, who are reputed to have held Kilberry at one time.
The Kilberry Cross
The fragment of cross-shaft known as the Kilberry Cross is 1m high. One face shows three figures – a mounted warrior on a rearing horse at the bottom, a cleric wearing robes and mitre in the centre, with one hand raised in benediction and the other holding an archbishop’s staff, and part of a second robed figure at the top. The other face is decorated with intricate leaf scroll looping around a pair of back-to-back, prancing lions at the base of a cross.
An associated cross-head, believed at one time to be the one missing from the Kilberry Cross, was discovered around 1860 in woodland near the site of the old church. The cross movingly depicts the crucified Christ. The foot of the cross is supported in the mouth of a small dragon.
- The Kilberry Cross – a remarkable piece of late-medieval sculpture.