Celtic Cross of Duleek
Weight: 8.20 Grams
Celtic Cross of Duleek
This cross is a double-sided replica of the original cross. Handmade and hallmarked in Ireland.
Video: Celtic 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.
Duleek became as important as Armagh, or Clonard or Clonmacnoise and included hospitals, almhouses and sanctuaries. It was a resting place for the bodies of Brian Boru and his son - in law where they lay in state on their way to burial in Armagh in 1014 after the battle of Clontarf: later an Augustinian priory was set up there by the O'Kelly family. When the Norman, Hugh de Lacy built himself a castle nearby he granted the Church of St. Ciaran to the Augustinians of Gloucestershire in 1180. The Normans had themselves pillaged the Priory a few years earlier.
The unusual feature of the High Cross is that one face, the East face, is completely covered in Celtic curvilinear and geometric designs. At the bottom on the West face there is a scene with three figures which may be the holy family or it may be the presentation of our Lord in the Temple. Above are two panels each with two figures facing, one with hands clasped, one with hands raised, at the centre is a Crucifixion scene and at the top of the cross a scene from the story of the monastery. It seems that St.Adamnon visited the tomb of St.Ciaran's body lay uncorrupted. He broke the rule and touched the body and his eye was struck out. Later as he fasted as a penance his eye was miraculously restored.
The top panel shows the restoration. On the East face there appears to be a symbolic vine, while the centre shows a design with seven bosses. Scholars now realise that the early Irish artists, whatever their medium constructed everything with "meaning and exactitude" (Hilary Richardson, 1984).
They took over, it would seem, the designs of the Celts and developed a new symbolic language using design and the symbolism of numbers to convey the Christian message.