The oldest Celtic High Cross

The geometric designed east face. Where the design is clearly visible 1500 years after the day they were incised into the sandstone.
At the time I was there because the Sun was rising I could not shoot the west face.

The first photo, taken on the eleventh of Feb, indicates that the orientation of the Cross was changed at some point. Put simply the Sun is rising on the ridge behind through the Cross, but at neither Christmas or Easter.

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12 Responses to The oldest Celtic High Cross

  1. Jen says:

    How is the cross supposed to be orientated? I would never have known something wasn't right. I would have appreciated the beauty of the art without ever suspecting it had any purpose other than ornamentation. I'm learning different.

  2. Vince says:

    You know the way when the muslim prays he/she faces Mecca. In all of the Christian traditions, all of them, it is not Jerusalem or any place on earth that matters but the Last Day. Judgement Day.
    Now here is where it gets a bit difficult, is it the Dawn or the Dusk that matters. The very early Church had two groups of thought.
    Split relatively speaking but joined also, between a tradition of Community and that of Hierarchy, Bishops and so forth.
    If you look in google earth @st Paul's in London @st Peters in Rome or the Monastery of St Catherine in Sinai all these are facing East, the Dawn in other words. But early churches dedicated to St James or St Micheal and many many others face west and Dusk.
    Oh, another bit to this is the tower or spire, where if you go up you see the Dawn before everyone else and can ring a bell to warn the people still without light. And once they could read the book before them, it meant dawn had arrived.
    Oh, in Scotland and in Ireland in the very old days, everyone had a band with black and white side by side so they could be ready for their maker. These guys were hard core indeed.

  3. What does that mean,a band with black and white and side by side?

    The history is so interesting. Thanks for the lesson.

    Also, do you know what the designs mean? Looks like sun and maybe wind or water. Perhaps an amalgamation of Christianity and Celtic gods?

  4. Vince says:

    The exact moment of Dawn is when you can see the difference between black and white. Or when you can read lettering on a page.

    As to the designs, there is a good deal of argument. The theme of geometric designs can be Celtic, but there is a pretty obvious problem with pushing it too far. A square is a square. But those interlocking spirals and the knot work are typical. Some argue that this Cross had a model in metal. I'm less sure of that.
    All in all the main issue is that Ireland and Scotland were cut off from the Christian East for the better part of 200 years. So what was an amalgam of different Christian Imperial designs an evolution would automatically occur.
    However, this evolution did not extend to the written word in either Greek or Latin. And when Celtic Teachers returned to mainland Europe, they discovered that many people through error were making the sign of the cross exchanging daughter for Son. A bit of an oopsy, if ever there was one.

  5. Rebecca S. says:

    How interesting to read all of this history! I was just reading about Northern Ireland being actually more Scottish than anything, though they tend to call themselves English, right? There is a Canadian humourist called Will Ferguson who wrote a new book about walking the Ulster trail.

    Dawn is very important in Christian imagery, i.e.: “In the tender compassion of our God
    the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” St. Luke

  6. Vince says:

    LOL, calling themselves English. While the sides in NI really dislike each other most of the time, none of them would accuse the other of being that.

  7. Rebecca S. says:

    Ah well, you would know more about Ireland than Will Ferguson, after all. He did note the presence of a lot of Union Jacks, though.

  8. Vince says:

    Yes, but the Union Jack is not the cross of St George. The Union Flag is made up of the Crosses of St's Patrick, Andrew and George.

  9. Rebecca S. says:

    Okay then, but are there places in Ireland where they won't fly it on account of the St George cross?

  10. Vince says:

    The Flag of the Irish Republic is a tricolour of Green White and Orange, so yes, a good 90% of the Island would not be seen dead with it flying. The flag of the UK is the Union Jack, this signifies to union of three separate Kingdoms, Scotland Ireland and England. It is raised by Unionists in Northern Ireland, that is where Ferguson saw it.
    But my little joke above about the English is a bit like Canadians being mistaken for Americans. England has by far the largest area and population and with everything from tiddly-winks tournaments upwards Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall will have but one focus hammering the cr** out of any English team. Why, because the English are very very bad winners, they tend to get notions. Put it this way if Canada was playing England, ALL of the rest would follow Canada

  11. Rebecca S. says:

    My born and bred in England friend said she went back for a wedding of a cousin and everyone, even the bride was drunk – everyone drinks all the time, she said. When I asked her why she said it was because they know the country is going to hell in a handbasket and they don't know what to do about it. So maybe they are their own worst enemy? They make some good tv though! But then so does Ireland: Father Ted for instance.
    Thanks for all the explanations: I find it all so fascinating!

  12. Vince says:

    The thing is Rebecca it's all friendly enough these days. But there is an edge that you just do not have anywhere else.

    On the Drink issue, much of it derives from Government policy. And loath as I am to defend them, on this they do not deserve the comments. Put simply if you allow all the public-houses, nightclubs and whatever else to close at the same time. Then you will have thousands upon thousands of well oiled people all attempting to get home at the same time.
    About ten years ago they changed to Law on opening times, but all they did was push the problem to later in the night.

    If your friend was looking for a silver-lining, she can be 95% certain she -the Bride- was not baking a bun. For on these Islands drunk driving and drinking while pregnant is almost unheard. While the girl/woman might be floating in alcohol the day she conceived, when she suspects she is “with child” it halts like a tap being turned off.

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