Irish High Crosses

West face


St Ruadhán founded the monastery at Lorrha in the 6th century. In the same enclosure as St Ruadhán's Church are the remains of two 8th/9th century crosses.

North-West Cross

This cross is the furthest one from the church. All that remains is a decorated base and a stump of the shaft. The base has three steps. The bottom step of the west face, pictured left, has a rectangular moulded frame divided into three panels. The central panel bears a spiral pattern, the left panel interlace and the right one bears fretwork. The middle step has a procession of animal probably horses, walking to the left. This decoration also appears on all four faces of the base, The upper step is too worn to identify the decoration. The east face, pictured below, has a similar rope-moulded frame, with two registers. The upper register bears worn fretwork and the lower bears a scene in false relief with two lions facing each other, with another lion like creature facing a man on the right. There maybe be some crosses further to the right. The south side also bears figure sculpture in the lower step. The iconography is very worn, but one panel may represent Adam and Eve.

East face. Procession of horses?

Daniel in the Lions' Den?

South-East Cross

The cross nearest the church is known as the Southeast cross. It is very poorly preserved. Similar to the North-west cross, it consists of a base and part of the shaft. The rough hewn base is believed to represent Golgotha/Calvary, the hill where Jesus was crucified. Harbison suggests the base may have worn figure sculpture with Daniel in the Lions' Den on the north side. The image on the right, shows the south and east sides of the base; no figure sculpture was evident. Unfortunately the north side was in dark shadow and no carving was visible there either. The remains of the, 1.22m high, shaft appear to be covered with fretwork. Again Harbison suggests there may be a panel in the middle of the east face bearing a horseman, but this was not noticeable on my visit.

Looking west from the North-west Cross you can see the southside of the Augustinian Abbey. Between these two sites, on the opposite side of the road is St Ruadháns Well. To the southwest of the town stands the Dominican Priory.

South face

St Ruadháns Church

Situated: The crosses are located in the graveyard to the west of St Ruadháns Parish Church, in the centre of the Town.

Google Map.

Discovery Map 53: M 9190 0456.

Last Visit: July 2016.

Longitude: 8° 7' 15" W.

Latitude: 53° 5' 30" N. North-west cross

Nearest High Crosses featured on this website.

Roscrea: 26 Kilometres SE.

Clonmacnoise: 28 Kilometres NNE..

Kinnity: 28 Kilometres E.

Inishcealtra: 30 Kilometres SW.

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

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