In 1951 some 25 sculptured stones were removed from the basement of Kilberry Castle, a private residence, and placed in a purpose-built shelter for public display. In 1997 they were joined by the Kilberry Cross. All the stones were found on the Kilberry estate, most of them apparently from the site of the medieval parish church, a little to the east of the castle.
The collection comprises three early Christian grave-slabs, all incised with crosses, eight late-medieval West Highland grave-slabs, eight late-medieval cross fragments (including the Kilberry Cross, and another depicting a kneeling female with a rosary), and seven simpler grave-slabs dating from the 1500s and 1600s.
Of the eight West Highland grave-slabs, two bear effigies of armed warriors, one named John, son of Mauritius. Mauritius is a Latinised form of the Gaelic name Muiredach or Murchad. It was common amongst the MacMurachies, who are reputed to have held Kilberry at one time.
The fragment of cross-shaft known as the Kilberry Cross is 1m high. One face shows three figures – a mounted warrior on a rearing horse at the bottom, a cleric wearing robes and mitre in the centre, with one hand raised in benediction and the other holding an archbishop’s staff, and part of a second robed figure at the top. The other face is decorated with intricate leaf scroll looping around a pair of back-to-back, prancing lions at the base of a cross.
An associated cross-head, believed at one time to be the one missing from the Kilberry Cross, was discovered around 1860 in woodland near the site of the old church. The cross movingly depicts the crucified Christ. The foot of the cross is supported in the mouth of a small dragon.References:
Czocha Castle is located on the Lake Leśnia, what is now the Polish part of Upper Lusatia. Czocha castle was built on gneiss rock, and its oldest part is the keep, to which housing structures were later added.
Czocha Castle began as a stronghold, on the Czech-Lusatian border. Its construction was ordered by Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, in the middle of the 13th century (1241–1247). In 1253 castle was handed over to Konrad von Wallhausen, Bishop of Meissen. In 1319 the complex became part of the dukedom of Henry I of Jawor, and after his death, it was taken over by another Silesian prince, Bolko II the Small, and his wife Agnieszka. Origin of the stone castle dates back to 1329.
In the mid-14th century, Czocha Castle was annexed by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Then, between 1389 and 1453, it belonged to the noble families of von Dohn and von Kluks. Reinforced, the complex was besieged by the Hussites in the early 15th century, who captured it in 1427, and remained in the castle for unknown time (see Hussite Wars). In 1453, the castle was purchased by the family of von Nostitz, who owned it for 250 years, making several changes through remodelling projects in 1525 and 1611. Czocha's walls were strengthened and reinforced, which thwarted a Swedish siege of the complex during the Thirty Years War. In 1703, the castle was purchased by Jan Hartwig von Uechtritz, influential courtier of Augustus II the Strong. On August 17, 1793, the whole complex burned in a fire.
In 1909, Czocha was bought by a cigar manufacturer from Dresden, Ernst Gutschow, who ordered major remodelling, carried out by Berlin architect Bodo Ebhardt, based on a 1703 painting of the castle. Gutschow, who was close to the Russian Imperial Court and hosted several White emigres in Czocha, lived in the castle until March 1945. Upon leaving, he packed up the most valuable possessions and moved them out.
After World War II, the castle was ransacked several times, both by soldiers of the Red Army, and Polish thieves, who came to the so-called Recovered Territories from central and eastern part of the country. Pieces of furniture and other goods were stolen, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the castle was home to refugees from Greece. In 1952, Czocha was taken over by the Polish Army. Used as a military vacation resort, it was erased from official maps. The castle has been open to the public since September 1996 as a hotel and conference centre. The complex was featured in several movies and television series. Recently, the castle has been used as the setting of the College of Wizardry, a live action role-playing game (LARP) that takes place in their own universe and can be compared to Harry Potter.