Browsing through my photos of cache locations in Ireland, I noticed recurring patterns of where caches are hidden: ruined churches and abbeys, dolmen portal tombs and High Crosses all featured repeatedly and it’s little wonder why. These historical settings are ideal to place caches at, leading people to interesting locations they might not otherwise have known about.
I decided to dig a little deeper and write about some of these cache themes that seem to occur all over Ireland and I’ll start with Irish High Crosses.
High, or Celtic, Crosses usually have a ring (or nimbus) surrounding intersecting horizontal and vertical branches (though some examples do not have a ring), they are always carved from stone, often decorated with Celtic designs, and are free-standing. The crosses can be found mainly in Ireland, Britain, France and Spain.
Irish Celtic Crosses
Many more examples of High Crosses survived in Ireland than in Britain, where a large number were destroyed following the Reformation and the resultant destruction of religious iconography.
Legend has it that Ireland’s patron Saint, Patrick, first created the Celtic Cross, as a way of combining the cross of the Christian faith with a large circular stone worshipped by the pagan Druids. How exactly the Celtic Cross got its design is the subject of much debate, with various theories put forward, including a possible link to the Roman sun god, sol invictus, or the simple idea that the ring was added by stonemasons to add stability to the structure.
When is a High Cross not a High Cross?
Irish High Crosses are believed to date from between the 8th and 12th centuries. Outside of this time period, the cross cannot be considered a High Cross, so historians must use inscriptions on the cross (which is often absent or no longer decipherable due to weathering), or analysis of the iconography used on the cross to decipher a date. If the cross is clearly legible as a gravestone, this is not a true High Cross, but rather a replica. The revival of the Celtic Cross as a grave stones occurred in the 19th century, but original High Crosses were not used as grave markers, but were found near churches, abbeys or boundary lines.
Very often, Celtic Crosses will be replaced with replica crosses and the originals brought inside to museums or other buildings to conserve them.
There are more than 250 High Crosses still to be found in Ireland, some partially missing and others fully intact. Many more would have existed at the height of their popularity but the Irish weather is unforgiving when it comes to sandstone structures and many decayed away.
Where can I find High Crosses?
Below is a list of some of Ireland’s Celtic Crosses, but it’s by no means exhaustive. I have only chosen crosses with caches very near to them. For a more complete list of Celtic Crosses, check out the Megalithic Ireland website. If you discover a cross near you without a cache, let me know if you decide to hide one!
Ahenny, County Tipperary
High Crosses of the South East – Ahenny, GC1A8XQ
Ardboe, County Tyrone
Ardboe Abbey, GCHV96
Armagh, County Armagh
Church Micro IE 177 St Patrick’s Cathedral Armagh, GC6D88J
Carndonagh, County Donegal
Carndonagh High Cross, GC5353G
Castledermot, County Kildare
Fairy (Tale) Tower, GC57A0X
Clonca, County Donegal
Clonca Cross, GC534XP
Clonmacnoise, County Offaly
Downpatrick, County Down
Church Micro IE 68 Down Cathedral, Downpatrick, GC50P9A
Dromiskin, County Louth
Peace of Dromiskin, GC69T6W
Duleek, County Meath
Daimh Liag, GC1305B
Eglish, County Tyrone
Dont be two cross, GC2F6DA
Fahan, County Donegal
Saint Mura’s Cross, GC4Z36T
Glendalough, County Wicklow
Inis Cealtra, County Clare
Inis Cealtra, GC6KAM2
Kells, County Meath
Ceanannas Mór, GC1R913
Kilfenora, County Clare
Celtic Cross, GC63XYX
Kilgobbin, County Dublin
Kilkieran, County Tipperary
High Crosses of the Southeast – Kilkieran, GC1KJFFN
Killamery, County Tipperary
High Crosses of the South East – Killamery, GC1A90M
Kilree, County Kilkenny
High Crosses of the Southeast – Kilree, GC1MKPW
Kinnitty, County Offaly
Kinnitty Castle, GC535X9
Laughanstown, County Dublin
Monasterboice, County Louth
Monasterboice High Crosses and Round Tower, GCYQ42
Moone, County Kildare
Old Kilcullen, County Kildare
Old Kilcullen Hill, GC1QR17
Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary
This Is Near, But The One Out The Road Is Far Away, GC52GET
Ardane, County Tipperary
St Beriherts, GC425V4
Mullins Multi, GC1EKFR
Have you found caches near High Crosses? Let me know in the comments!
© 2016 | Sarah Murphy | All Rights Reserved
Barney McLaughlin’s blog Irish High Crosses is a great resource with immeasurable detail on High Crosses around Ireland.