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Yet another hogback

Yet another hogback

This hogback is located in the churchyard of St Boniface’s Chapel on Westray. The tegulation and lowered height illustrates that this hogback shares a lot in common with later coped grave covers.



  1. Wow, how lucky are you? Unfortunately we only have one Hogback here in Ireland. 🙂

    • DKnight says:

      That’s the Castledermot Stone in County Kildare, right? Lovely bit of carving. When I was last in Orkney I was able to see very similar carving styles on the funerary monuments which have been moved into the cathedral.

      • Ah you know your stuff. Its just a shame that the stone is left out in the weather. As is the carvings are quite faint.

      • DKnight says:

        Most of the hogbacks suffer from exposure unfortunately- similar problem with Pictish carved stones as well. Most of the one’s I’ve seen have been high grade sandstone and unless they were moved inside the carving erodes away ridiculously quickly. Also the acid levels in rain were elevated for such a long time with coal use- again it just makes them dissolve.

        The illustrated hogback that I documented in North Yorkshire had only survived because the landowners during the Jacobean period moved it and all the other stone sculpture on site into the older chapel. One was built into the foundation wall but the lack of water action has kept it in reasonably good nick other than being stained pink by iron-rich deposits nearby.

      • Not really a fan of moving these fantastic pieces, as it normally only happens for money. But if it means that they are saved from such erosion then I guess its a bonus.
        Unfortunately here in Ireland the powers that be dont look after our remaining heritage like our neighbours in the UK.
        If I ever get finished documenting the sites of Ireland, I would love to travel further afield. Until then I look forward to your fantastic posts, 🙂

      • DKnight says:

        Neither am I to be fair- I blame the antiquarians for moving the Sockburn set. English Heritage gave me permission to move the Tyr hogback for photographic purposes but since its almost 2 meters long and at least 300 kg I figured it was prudent to find another way to document that.

        From a professional point of view getting archaeological publications for certain Irish sites can be incredibly difficult. Its getting a lot better though than it used to be. Certain topics and regions get the better press though, such is life.

        Thanks for that. I miss being able to easily go to sites now that I’m back in California. Going through my photo backlog is good though and getting to discuss things regularly makes it better.

  2. Great pic. Wish we had more in Ireland.

    Ed, at the risk of bursting more bubbles, there’s a good chance the Castledermot stone isn’t a hogback. Certainly looks like an unfinished high cross shaft.

    • DKnight says:

      Thanks for that!
      Its a dose of early medieval sculpture to brighten everyone’s day.

      I’ll eventually get to Ireland- didn’t have the chance while I was in grad school. Hogbacks were a portion of my MA work so I have a few things I post randomly regarding them. Unfortunately they just don’t occur in the rest of my research area though and I didn’t have the energy to produce a work more in keeping with Collingwood. Also if I had tried to tie in sculpture more into my identity discussion my advisor would have tossed all his toys out of the pram in a major way. There was enough departmental rigamarole for just my translation work.

  3. I feel your pain. Ive translated 70% of an old Irish text, and it’ll probably end up as an appendix.

    Do you know of Howard Williams? Re: Hogbacks http://howardwilliamsblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/tombs-of-vikings-hogback-stones-revisited/

    • DKnight says:

      Familiar because I’ve seen him on the UK conference circuit. I had a whole handful of friends attending that conference too while I was stuck in California preparing for viva about that time.

      Dang it, some day I’ll be independently wealthy enough for my research and conference habits…

  4. DKnight says:

    He sounds really familiar. Familiar enough I’ll be checking my hogback notes once I’m done choosing pics for a new post.

    My translations ended up as an appendix at the very end. Stay strong on it because my publisher and the rest of Viking studies have both appreciated the efforts made more than the archaeology department ever did.

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