Kildare High Cross

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In the south west corner of St. Brigid’s cathedral in Kildare town, there sits a rather unusual Celtic cross. Little is known of its origin, and with its lack of decoration, it’s quite difficult to put a date to it. Some people believe that it is one of the oldest structures within the grounds of the cathedral and may date back to ancient times. The cross itself is made from granite and is about nine feet tall. It originally would have had a ringed cross head, but the top part of this was damaged and is now missing. The shaft is slightly tapered and it sits in an unusual large square base which might suggest that this was not its original position.

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One of the earliest Christian symbols in Ireland is the cross. However its origins are shrouded in mystery, with many variations scattered across many ancient cultures. At the core of these we find the equal armed cross, enclosed within a circle, this is commonly referred to as the ‘Sun Wheel. As a symbol we find the Sun Wheel appear in the geometry of many ancient Neolithic sites such as the Callanish Stone Circle in Scotland, even Odin himself was connected to the symbol via ‘Odin’s Cross’ in Norse mythology. We have all probably seen the Native American medicine wheel, yet another sun cross. Moving on to the early Christian period it was said that the roman emperor Constantine 1st had a vision in which he saw a cross superimposed over the sun. This became known as the ‘Sol Invictus’ and was incorporated into Christian beliefs. Obviously Constantine had plagiarized his ‘vision’.

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And so we move on to the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. We have all seen the wonderful standing stones which scatter the countryside like acupuncture needles. The exact use of these stones is still open to debate, some say they were used by our ancestors like acupuncture needles to harness the energy of the planet, others maintain that they were the site of druidic ritual, and then some belief that they are symbols of fertility?  Well in the early Christian period, followers of the new religion would carve symbols of the cross onto these pagan stones, such as Kilgowan Standing Stone also in Kildare. Some standing stones were even mutilated into crude cross shapes. And so began the start of the Celtic High Crosses. For more Irish High Crosses check out Duiske Abbey, , Castledermot South & Castledermot North, Old Kilcullen, St. Mullins, or the famous High Cross at Moone.

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For these and more of my images, why not visit my Website or join me on Facebook or Twitter.

About edmooneyphotography

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

13 Responses to Kildare High Cross

  1. beetleypete says:

    Nice shots here Ed. Lovely textures in the stones.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great and evocative pics as usual. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. socialbridge says:

    Gorgeous photos. High Crosses are so beautiful and elegant.


  4. Such an interesting history of the symbol of the cross in Celtic history. Something so intriguing about the cross with the top missing. Seems all the ruins you photograph raise more questions than answers. i really enjoy your work!


  5. great history on the sun wheel and fantastic images. Oh btw thanks for the blog promote on twitter! I am so sporadic on these social media sites!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lexa says:

    Oh stunning images – so good to see others have the ruins addiction…..ahhh exhale.
    Fascinating perspectives on how each sees and captures them. Love your softness… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The Round Tower of Kildare | Ed Mooney Photography

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