Where is the Ship Which From the Ceiling Hung?’ Ghost Ships: The ship models missing from Scotland’s churches

By Meredith Greiling, published February 2022


A recent survey of the surviving ship models in Scottish churches has identified an interesting chronological gap, an absence which has created the impression that ship models in Scotland’s churches are a nineteenth-century phenomenon. Existing older models from the seventeenth century have been dismissed as anomalies harking back to pre-Reformation votive offerings washed away in tides of iconoclasm. This article considers evidence that the nineteenth-century church ship models, far from being a revival, were often the latest in a series of models, and the shadows of those lost older models demonstrate a continuous maritime tradition that persisted throughout the centuries from the Reformation onwards. Traces of these missing models can be discerned from scant mentions in church records and local histories, from which a pattern emerges of ships in coastal churches from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, lost through neglect and decay, replaced when their churches were renovated or rebuilt in the nineteenth century.

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Filed under: Other (Early Modern) | Other (Nineteenth C) | Other (Eighteenth C)
Subjects include: Ship Models & Figureheads

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