Fraser (2013) outlines the principal classes of later medieval gravestones and their main attributes. With the exception of West Highland sculpture (Figures 28 and 29) and effigies (which exist as both incised slabs Figure 30 and three-dimensional monuments Figure 31), current knowledge remains limited. Accordingly, other categories of stones can typically be briefly summarised. For example, the 90 known coped stones (Figure 32) occur in a wide variety of forms but with few examples found north of Angus. Similarly, Thomson’s 2013a study of discoid markers (Figure 33) identified only 12 later medieval stones, which are categorised by a typology that spans the early medieval period to the 19th century. In contrast, there have been several surveys of effigies (Figures 30–31) either as incised slabs or three-dimensional forms (Brydall 1895; Greenhill 1944; 1946; 1976; Lankester and Scott 1981). This research often includes details of tombs that no longer survive outside documentary records and provides information about the identity of the deceased where this is known. Many of those commemorated by effigies were church founders and patrons, including royalty, members of the clergy (Figure 30), knights and, occasionally, their wives.
Particular attention has been paid to depictions of arms and armour (Figure 31). This focus when combined with information on heraldry, architectural detailing and inscriptions can help with dating and identifying the deceased but also contributes to an understanding of both commemoration and the history of warfare (Capwell 2005; Melville 2000; Norman 1963). In contrast to England, where the fashion for stone-carved monuments gave way to engraved brass plates, incised effigy slabs continued in production in Scotland beyond the medieval period. Research shows both effigy slabs and three-dimensional forms were often embellished with polychromy and were influenced by continental fashions. In some cases foreign materials and masons were used, most notably for Robert I’s elaborate tomb Dunfermline Abbey, of which only fragments now survive (Fraser 2015, Robert the Bruce: Case Study 5). Fawcett (2002, 304–21) provides a detailed discussion of monumental tomb design, including details on location, forms of associated burials, dating and types of designs in churches.