Object of the Month: December 2016

Profile Moulding from the Nave of Lismore Cathedral

LISDD:2006.125

LISDD:2006.125 Profile moulding 27cm x 21cm x 20cm

LISDD:2006.125 Profile moulding 27cm x 21cm x 20cm

Although there is general agreement that the choir/chancel of the Cathedral of Argyll on Lismore dates from the 13th Century, the date of completion of the nave and tower is uncertain. It is hoped that the radiocarbon dating of the nave mortar exposed during the 2016 dig will reveal when the building was completed. What is known is that the nave and tower fell into disrepair and were ruinous by the mid-16th Century. Although most of the structure was Lismore limestone, the architectural features of the nave were carved from white Morvern sandstone. There is an oral tradition that this stone was landed on the island at Port na Moralachd (Portnamurlach/Port nam Mòr-laoch).

Archaeologist Clare Ellis recording the sandstone “drip course” at the foot of the west wall of the nave, August 2016

Archaeologist Clare Ellis recording the sandstone “drip course” at the foot of the west wall of the nave, August 2016

The ruined building was “robbed” of this fine stone, and it appears in different places – in the manse, and in field walls. Some pieces survived on site, including this fragment of window moulding, which Donald Black recovered from a drystone wall and donated to the museum for safe keeping. During the 2016 excavation of the nave, three further pieces of window moulding were recognised:

Mark Thacker and Clare Ellis recording three fragments of window moulding from the cathedral nave, August 2016

Mark Thacker and Clare Ellis recording three fragments of window moulding from the cathedral nave, August 2016

Blocks of Morvern sandstone in walls near the church

Blocks of Morvern sandstone in walls near the church

Blocks of Morvern sandstone in walls near the church

Blocks of Morvern sandstone in walls near the church

During 2017, there will be an intensive search for further examples of Morvern sandstone in the area round the church, looking, in particular for mason’s marks.

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