St Kessog's Church, Luss, Loch Lomond, Argyll and Bute
St Kessog's Church, also known as Luss Parish Church, is a popular wedding venue. It fits so well into the quaint village of Luss, is almost above the shore of Loch Lomond and is naturally close to places for wedding receptions. You will often see wedding photographs being taken close by or hear a piper warming up. But mostly that is how it is experienced in the warmer months. In winter the church takes on a different character, almost mystical. Melding into the environment. Cold, yet comfortable. As with the trees, complacently sitting out the season of rest. Here I show it in an eerie light through the bare trees and across Luss Water just before it enters the Loch.
As the first pleasant days of spring arrive, so too do the many visitors wandering around it and through the churchyard.
St Kessog's is named after one of Scotland's first martyrs. Before the reformation, Luss was an important centre for pilgrims because of its association with him. He is attributed with starting the original church in 510 AD and a monastery on Inchtavannach (“monk's island”). It is believed that he is buried on the hill on the island.
This church was built in 1875. It was restored in 2001.
The churchyard itself is worth a look. You may be surprised to find a hogback stone near the west Lychgate. These intriguing tombstones may remind one of the rough back of a hog or wild boar, but in fact represent Viking longhouses or perhaps even grander buildings. This one has rounded shapes of roof shingles carved onto the curved top and the sides even have Romanesque arches and other features. Calling them Viking is therefore confusing. This one is thought to be from the 11th century although it could have been brought here after a Viking raid in 1263 when some of the raiders stayed. The death of St Kessog appears to have been due to murder perhaps instigated by druids with whom the Christian faith was seen as challenging their authority. No one is quite sure. But whether the Vikings were invaders or not, those who came here were recognised as Christian and this may be why this stone was incorporated into the churchyard.
British Listed Buildings : http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/200347768-luss-st-kessogs-church-and-churchyard-luss#.WQRKE6Fri00
Luss Church website : http://lusschurch.com
St Kessog website : http://www.stkessog.org.uk/st_kessog.htm
Helensburgh Heritage Trust website : http://www.helensburgh-heritage.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=472:the-story-of-st-kessog-of-luss&catid=91:religion-&Itemid=492
Echoes of the Past blog on the viking tombstones here : https://blosslynspage.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/the-viking-hogback-stone-of-luss-loch-lomond-scotland/
Medieval Histories website on hogback tombstones generally : http://www.medievalhistories.com/viking-hogbacks/