In 2008 nominations for the Seven Wonders of Lanark County poured in such as the beautiful Inge-Va house in Perth, the exquisite Mill of Kintail in Mississippi Mills, the stunning “Preaching Rock” in Lanark Highlands and the mysterious “diamond cross” cut-outs (folk art) seen on historic barns in Lanark County.
Diamond Cross Cut-Outs? Do we have Amish in Lanark County? All our local barns were formed of square or rectangular cribs or pens made of rough hewn logs laid horizontally and held together by notched corners. As farms gradually expanded and more barn space was necessary small specialized buildings were attached.
So what were these openings for? Well, putting small decorative openings high up were viewed simply as owl and air ventilation holes however, the artistic, decorative quality seemed to contradict with a barn or a farm’s practical existence and function. Traditionally called owl holes, and they also offer nesting openings for barn swallows. Barns were typically the largest investment and structure on a farm often costing more than the house to construct The Catholic German immigrants began this tradition not only as ventilation but to protect the barns from fire.
The cut-outs seem to serve practical and spiritual purposes. It was passed down from generation to generation during an era when our forefathers had a deep respect for tradition. It might have been something the team of builders just did and didn’t know why. But, I believe they were not simply owl/bird access or ventilation holes, but were regarded as protective symbols as well.