of The Celtic Cross
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Continental
Europe fell into a period of decline referred to as the Dark Ages.
During this period, Ireland experienced a golden age of learning
and art. The Seventh Century saw a flowering of art, learning and
missionary endeavor throughout the Island, giving rise to the phrase,
'the land of saints and scholars'.
From the ninth to twelfth centuries, under
the patronage of wealthy monasteries and powerful Celtic kings,
Irish craftsmen produced some of Europe's finest early medieval
art created in manuscripts, and artifacts in precious metals of
gold, silver and stone.
The influence of Ireland's prehistoric pagan
art, Hiberno-Norse motifs, Anglo Saxon art and European influences
from further afield combined to create a unique insular art style.
Innovations in sculpture, ornamental metalwork, manuscript illumination
and architecture, coincided with developments in literature, language
and grammar and the establishment of new church practices.
Ireland's Celtic Cross
The Celtic Crosses or High Crosses as they
are commonly known, represent the high point of this art form, and
are to be found in monastic settlements throughout Ireland. The
elaborate motifs and scenes executed in stone on the High Crosses
reflect not only the skill of the stonemasons but also highlight
the transfer of artistic concepts and designs between the crafts
of stone, metal and manuscript illumination of the period. As free
standing sculptures, Irish high crosses dominated the architecture
of Ireland’s main church settlements.
click on the links below for more information on some of Ireland's
most famous Celtic Crosses and to view our range of replica Celtic
High Cross of Moone:
At Moone in Co.Kildare, is the site of the early Columban foundation
- "Moin Cholum Cille". Here you can see the tall
slender Celtic Cross at Monasterboice which are standing where the
monks placed them, the cross of Moone was lost for centuries, buried
and in pieces. The capstone of the cross is still missing.
High Cross of Muiredeach / Monasterboice: The
Celtic Cross of Muiredach at Monasterboice in Co. Louth is one of
the most beautiful of the Irish High Crosses still standing. At
the base of the West side can still be seen the inscription in Irish
"OR DO MUIREDACH LASNDERNAD IN CHROS" which when
translated reads "A prayer for Muiredach, for whom this
cross was made". Most scholars think that this applied
to Muiredach, son of Domhaill, an abbot of Monasterboice who died
about AD922. More...
High Cross of Clonmacnoise / Scriptures:The
The city of the seven churches, Clonmacnoise, was founded in 548
AD and lasted a thousand years. Now it seems a quiet ruined abbey,
but at its full flowering it was a bustling important centre, a
university city on a major Irish highway, the River Shannon. More...
High Cross of Ardboe: The
beautifully carved high Celtic crosses of early Christian times
are unique to Ireland and Britain and are famous through Europe.
The finest of them are the Scripture Crosses which tell the Bible
story in a series of detailed panels. The fullest series of scenes
is on the tall cross at Ardboe in Tyrone, on the west shore of
Lough Neagh, not far from Coagh. More...
High Cross of Drumcliffe: "Beloved
to my heart also in the West Drumcliffe, at Culcinne's strand."
lines are from a poem attribuated to St.Columcille (or St.Columba
as he is also known) the founder of the monastry at Drumcliffe.
He was born in Donegal, a member of a royal family, studied at
bardic and monastic schools and after his ordination travelled
Ireland and founded several monastic settlements, including Derry,
near his own birthplace Durrow and Kells. More...
High Cross of Durrow: "Before
he passed into Britain he built a noble monastery in Ireland which,
from the great numbers of oaks is ... called dermach, the field
of oaks". That
is how an early writer described the founding of the monastery
at Durrow by St. Columba - also known as St Columcille.
High Cross of Duleek: Duleek
was an important ecclesiastical centre in the early Christian
centuries and its Cross is unusual and very interesting. It was
founded by St.Ciaran (or Kennean) who was himself baptised by
St.Patrick in 472A.D. Here he built the first stone church recorded
in Ireland. The name of the town comes from the Irish "daimh
liag", a house of stones. The centre grew and flourished
for more than 700 years and aerial photographs of the town show
how the ecclesiastical boundaries still impose themselves on the
street plan today. More...
High Cross of Carndonagh / St. Patrick: This
lovely cross, known as the Cross of St. Patrick, is found in Carndonagh
in the north of Donegal. Originally Carndonagh was a bishopric,
said to have been established by St. Patrick himself.
this cross does not have the ring that we all associate with Celtic
crosses it was thought that it must have been erected in the 7th
or 8th centuries - a forerunner of the ringed cross. Now, however,
when scholars consider the quality of the carving they believe
that the cross was made in the 9th or 10th century.
High Cross of Ahenny: Ahenny
is an unusual place - a graveyard with two ancient Celtic crosses.
Two Celtic crosses, striking and subtly different from many crosses
seen on ancient monastic sites up and down the country, and different
because there is nothing in the Annals or in any other records
to tell us why they are there. More...
High Cross of St. Patrick and Columba Kells: This
cross of St. Patrick and St. Columba is an authentic copy of the
front and back faces of the original cross in Kells, County Meath.
Columba founded a monastic settlement in Iona, an island off the
coast of Scotland in 561. It was plundered repeatedly by Vikings
and in 806 the surviving monks moved to kells. It was there that
Ireland's best collection of High Crosses was assembled. The Cross
of Kells, like the other crosses, is weatherworn but it is still
possible to discern its great beauty and unusal features. More...
High Cross of Iona / St Martin: Iona
is a small island off the Isle of Mull in western Scotland. It
has been a "Holy isle" from time immemorial. An early
Gaelic name for it was "Isle of the Druids". In the
sixth century St.Columba (Columkille) went there from Ireland
and founded a monastic settlement; still later there was a Medival
Beuedietine Abbey on the same site. More...
High Cross of Cashel / Croke: This
modern Celtic cross was originally erected by the citizens of Cashel
in 1895 to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Thomas Croke, Archbishop
of Cashel and Emly from 1875 to 1902. More...