Celtic Cross of Durrow
Celtic Cross of Durrow
This cross is a double-sided replica of the original cross. Handmade and hallmarked in Ireland.
Video: Celtic 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.
Durrow is almost in the centre of Ireland. Only a few fragments remain of the buildings that were erected during and after the lifetime of St. Columba who died in AD 597. However one beautiful Celtic Cross remains, the cross now known as the Cross of Durrow.
At the base of this cross is a barely legible inscription which reads "Pray for Dubtach who erected this cross". Dubtach was the head of the Columban order between 927 and 938 AD. The cross, in white sandstone, is very sensitively carved. The West face of the cross has the scene of the Crucifixion, but as always there are people nearby. The scenes below probably represent incidents in the Passion. At the foot of the cross there are soldiers at the tomb. The East face shows the triumph of Christ - Christ in Judgement. Nearby is David with a harp or lyre. His psalms were recited almost continuously in the monasteries so he was a very revered figure. On this face there is also a representation of the sacrifice of Isacc and at the bottom three figures with angels. Is this the Trinity, or the Holy Family? It may indeed be both.
There are many beautiful panels of interlace design and, as always on the Irish Crosses, none of them the same. This was a most important cross, a sign of the importance of Durrow. We get a further glimpse of the importance of the monastery of Durrow in the Long Room of the library of Trinity College, Dublin. Many visitors go to see the Book of Kells with its magnificent designs and lettering. Not so many know about the Book of Durrow, a copy of the Gospels made almost a hundred years earlier that is also on display in the Long Room. It is a smaller carefully planned volume. There are "carpet" pages of design facing the opening pages of the Gospels; beautiful initial capital letters at the beginning of each Gospel and a full page symbol of each of the Four Evangelists.
When one looks at the skill, artistry and learning that produced such a manuscript
and then see these same qualities embodied in stone in the Cross of Durrow one
understands the poet who wrote of Durrow:
"With its books and learning A devout city with a hundred crosses".