2.4.2 Overview of previous studies

Funeral monuments have tended to be studied separately, although several studies of ecclesiastical architecture have also considered them (e.g. Muir 1861; MacGibbon and Ross 1896–7), especially where they comprise part of a structure (e.g. Fawcett 2002). Fraser (2013) offers an overview of current knowledge emphasising that, by comparison with early medieval sculpture (see Section 2.3), later medieval gravestones have been a neglected area of research. In the absence of an adequate survey of grave monuments across Scotland we lack a detailed understanding of dating, stylistic variation and design evolution, particularly for graveslabs (Figure 27, 32). While no corpus exists, a database of material is being compiled by Dr Iain Fraser, HES (Fraser 2013, 12). Known stones may also be reassessed through individual projects (e.g. Adding a New Dimension to Dundee’s Medieval Carved Stones) or by the efforts of individual researchers, such as Iain Fraser’s forthcoming research on Mariota de Moray of Aldie’s incised slab in Dunfermline Abbey. Although gravestones offer strong evidence for regional variations and for masons working in particular areas, only the West Highland sculpture, comprising slabs, effigies and commemorative crosses, has been comprehensively studied and recorded (Figures 28–9). Detailed surveys, first published in the RCAHMS Argyll series of Inventories, were synthesised and interpreted by Steer and Bannerman (1977). Their classification of West Highland sculpture identified five mason schools and documented 109 surviving inscriptions, providing a detailed historical background to the names recorded. Their work built on the longstanding antiquarian interest in this material (e.g. Muir 1861; Drummond 1881).

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