‘From fake relic to the real thing’ (by Sally Foster and Siân Jones)

Shadow of replica shines on burial place of St Columba
Above: St John’s Cross replica casts it shadow on the burial place of St Columba, Iona Abbey. Below: Touching the 1970 concrete replica. © Sally Foster
Touching the St John's Cross, Iona (c) Sally Foster, hand of Jonquil Alpe, her mother

‘Does it matter that a monument is a concrete replica rather than an eighth-century original?’ So asks journalist Chris Green in a long read in The i newspaper on 18 July 2020, prompted by the issues raised in our book My Life as a Replica: St John’s Cross, Iona. He also mentions the guidance now published on this website, which we initiated because of our research findings.

Under the heading ‘famous imitations’, his article illustrates and discusses:

  • Peplos Kore, Museum of Classical Archaeology, Cambridge, in the care of Dr Susanne Turner, contributor to New Futures for Replicas
  • Gardom’s Edge, Derbyshire, subject of research by Dr Katie Mills at Manchester University
  • The Coventry Cross, a 1976 concrete replica whose recent relocation caused controversy, noted in Private Eye
  • The Hilton of Cadboll replica (illustrating the original), the subject of ethnographic research by one of us (Jones) and cultural biography (Foster and Jones)
  • The Llandaff Diptych, two halves ‘reunited’ by combining an original and copy in 2011
  • Downpatrick replica of high cross created in 2013, steered by Mike King of Down County Museum.

You can preview the contents and a sample chapter of our book here, and order it with a special offer discount using voucher code REPLICA20 from the publisher here. The first review appeared in Archaeology Scotland for summer 2020 – thank you, Mark Hall!

You may also like to read about the Historic Environment Scotland decision to list the replica at Category A, after we submitted a designation request. See Indira Mann’s article in the Historic Scotland magazine for summer 2020 here.

Sally talks about the book in a short video here. Happy reading!

Dr Sally Foster and Professor Siân Jones, University of Stirling

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