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Seven swirling spirals

Object number: ROMGH.1998.20.1

Type: Poster

Material: Ballpoint pen, Paper, Pencil

Width: 126cm | Height: 53cm

Production date: 1948 - 1968

 Yes you can     No you cannot
Use the same Celtic patterns in your art and craft work Yes
Use this design for commercial purposes without the permission of the Copyright holder No
Commercially reproduce this object without the permission of the Copyright holder No

In this beautifully clear drawing George Bain has recorded one of the simplest but most exquisite uses of spiral decoration. It is at the centre of the front of the Pictish sculptured stone in Aberlemno churchyard. The balance and consistency of the seven interlinked triple spirals make something almost hypnotic. They draw the eye to the central roundel of the Christian cross.

It is not clear why Bain decided to make this drawing.  It could have been for the pure pleasure of capturing such a superbly simple but effective design. A clue might also be that he used the design to illustrate one method of joining spirals in Methods of Construction.  The Aberlemno spirals also feature in Bain’s 1936 article for the Gaelic Society of Inverness. There, he allows himself a little tirade about earlier, inaccurate, published interpretations of the design.

See Bain's Celtic Art, Methods of Construction page 62 Plate 4 and page 60 Plate M

Author: Alastair Morton

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