A richly decorated cross-slab from Kilduncan House, Fife: description and analysis
Kilduncan Slabs Carving, Metalwork, Sculpture, Cross-slab
Kilduncan; Fife; Scotland; UK
The article contends that the discovery in late 2001 of a small slab with a sophisticated and, in part, unique decorative programme near the eastern seabord of Fife, raises questions about the cultural affinities and dating of sculpture in Scotland. It is argued that analysis of the Kilduncan slab's carving suggests that the majority of its expected connections of form and ornament lie not with other monuments in eastern-central Scotland but rather in two seemingly mutually exclusive zones: sculpture in a North Sea province, stretching from the shores of the Moray Firth as far as the Northern Isles, Shetland demonstrating particularly strong affinities; and another yet further afield in an Irish Sea province where unique parallels occur, some only on metalwork. A primary milieu is proposed for the Kilduncan slab in a context of Scando-insular culture in Northern Scotland, probably on proto-episcopal estates in Moray linked with St Andrews but drawing on cultural affinities on occasion as distant as south-west Wales and southern Ireland, transmitted via western sea routes to a Christian culture in northern Scotland before redistribution southwards. Unexpected connections also occur with north-east England, implying St Andrews influence at work during Alban expansion southwards around the end of the first millennium AD.