In my childhood Barochan Cross was an imposing sight standing on the flat topped summit of Corslie Hill, east of the road from Houston to Langbank. Visiting the stone was a popular day trip for local families from Houston and the other surrounding villages. Today, only its large socketed base stone is in situ. In the late 1970s Barochan Cross was removed and taken to Edinburgh for repair and renovation. Once restored it was decided that, to prevent future degeneration, the cross should not be exposed to the elements. Since 1981, Barochan Cross has been on display in Paisley Abbey. But this was not the first time the monument had been moved. Barochan Cross had previously been situated on the road side, just south of Barochan Mill. The lands of Barochan had been owned by the Flemings of Barochan for centuries. Before 1818, Malcolm Fleming, the rich and powerful landowner, decided to move the cross to a more prominent position on nearby Corslie Hill, where he would take the opportunity to impress his friends when out hunting in the surrounding area.
Barochan Cross is carved on all four sides with interlace. A large panel on the front of the cross shows three possibly related themes – a figure on horseback carrying a spear approaching a figure on foot carrying what may be a drinking horn; three figures, one holding an axe and another perhaps holding something above the head of a third much smaller figure; and two opposing animals. There are two smaller panels on the back of the cross. The upper panel shows four identical stationary figures, wearing long apparel, standing in line, and the lower panel shows four, possibly marching, identical figures blowing trumpets and carrying long spears. The interpretation of these figural scenes appears to be secular rather than religious.
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Family visit 1936.
© Helen Calcluth 2023, Renfrewshire Local History Forum