Clonenagh Cross Slabs

Clonenagh Cross Slabs (1)

Following on from the Money Tree at Clonenagh, I took a wander into the adjacent Graveyard in search of some early Christian grave slabs. I was not expecting much, but to my surprise they were easily found. Resting against the east face of the graveyard, wall just inside the gate. Numbering 13 in total and said to date back to the sixth & seventh centuries, each one has its own unique and distinctive features. Three are in false relief, Whilst many bear a standard  cross within a circle design, some only feature a simple incised cross. A number of the stones appear to have had designs from a much later period engraved on to them. They were only discovered  back in 1988, whilst a pathway was been dug through the graveyard. Although the graveyard looks to be kept in good condition and shows sign of regular maintenance, the slabs which lie upright against the wall are in an area which is commonly used for dumping grass cuttings and other debris, which has resulted in the base of the slabs being covered in soil and vegetation.

Clonenagh Cross Slabs (2)

Clonenagh Cross Slabs (3)

One stone in particular was quite interesting, Slab 6 consists of a ‘small, cross-shaped slab measuring approx 0.7m x 0.33m x T 0.05m, it has short stumpy arms and a plain, incised, outline of a Latin cross on one face roughly following the outline of the stone. These early Christian stones are quite rare to find in Laois, and considering their age and the amount of natural erosion on the stone from their exposure to the weather, I seriously doubt that  they will survive much longer. Whilst I would hate to see them removed from their home and hidden away in some dark Museum, it might be the only chance for their survival unless some on site conservation plan is put in place to protect these stones from further weather erosion. These interesting stones are well worth a visit and you can also check out the nearby site of the early Christian Monastery at Clonenagh, founded by St. Fintan around 548AD and the ruins of Clonenagh Medieval Church.

Clonenagh Cross Slabs (4)

Clonenagh Cross Slabs (5)

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About edmooneyphotography

Photographer, Blogger, Ruinhunter, with an unhealthy obsession for history, mythology and the arcane.
This entry was posted in Diary of a Ruinhunter, Photography, Religious Sites and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Clonenagh Cross Slabs

  1. John says:

    What an incredible find! The age of these stones is amazing. I agree on protecting them somehow.

  2. Ali Isaac says:

    Its incredible that the carvings have lasted so well! I mean, these were the first Christians, the link between mythological times and history! I take it this is not their original position? They must have been moved?

    • Thanks Ali, Yes they were found buried in the graveyard back in the 80’s whilst putting in a new pathway. There are also a few stones scattered around the graveyard which are unmarked and probably much older.
      One thing I noticed about this graveyard, if you take away the grave markers and boundary wall, what your left with is a massive mound! Im sure you know where im going with this? Ancient burial mound or tomb?

  3. lyonsroarforgod says:

    Ed, your work on the Ireland ruins should be published in a big, beautiful book, which I would promptly buy and devour happily. 🙂 If this ever happens (or is already available), please let me know. Have a blessed day, Lisa

    • Ed: Lisa is onto a good idea. Publish!

    • Ah thanks Lisa,

      Its something I have been planning for some time now, but I don’t think I have visited enough sites or taken enough images that I would deem suitable for such a project.

      What you see here is only a small fraction of whats out there. Hopefully in a year or two I will feel ready to put one together, so until then I hope this blog will be enough to keep everyone’s interest.

      When I do get it ready, you will most certainly be one of the first to know,

      And thanks for the continued support, you have no idea how much its appreciated 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Eddie

  4. M T McGuire says:

    That’s amazing. To see something like that and know it’s over a thousand years old is sobering. Wow.

  5. aidymcglynn says:

    Fascinating spot Ed – reminds me of some ot the stonework found in Co. Fermanagh on the islands in Lough Erne.

  6. wildninja says:

    Ed, who owns the property? The church? The government? I agree that this is a case for conservation… I just wonder who, legally, has to arrange for that and/or give their consent.

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