The Marigold Stone

The stele known as the Marigold Stone is situated in the graveyard next to the Carndonagh High Cross. This pillar Stone stands 1.68 metres tall and is approximately 43 cms wide. It is carved on all four sides, but it is the east and west faces of the stele that bear the most fascinating carvings. The west face pictured right, bears a flabellum (a liturgical fan) the head of which consists of a large circle with a seven petalled marigold inside it. In Peter Harbison's book Pilgrimage in Ireland the monuments and the people, he suggests that the flabellum may imitate a relic of Saint Colmcille. At the bottom of the flabellum are two large loops used for either holding the fan or for hanging it up. On each side of the handle are two figures, each one holding what may be a crosier or staff and carrying a satchel, they are generally thought to represent a pilgrims. There are many other examples of this type of figure carved in stone around Ireland, amongst them are the Bishops Stone at Killadeas. One of the beautifully carved figures at White Island may also represent a pilgrim. You don't have to travel very far from the marigold stone to find another example, as one of the two pillar stones on either side of Carndonagh cross also bears a figure that probably represents a pilgrim. Below the figures there is another symbol associated with pilgrimage, the cross of arcs. This carving appears on many pilgrimage sites throughout Ireland from as far afield as Carndonagh to the Dingle peninsula in Kerry. The decorated stele at Reask would be a fine example.

The eastern face of the pillar, pictured above left, bears a rather unique crucifixion scene. The figure of Christ is placed upon an equal armed cross and his head protrudes above the pillar stone. A band of interlace represents the shaft of the cross. The band finishes with a tripartite knot. On each side of the interlace is a figure sculpture that may represent Longinus and Stephaton. Below the knot is another equal armed cross decorated with a beautiful interlace carving. The north and southern sides also bear decoration.


Also present in the Church of Ireland graveyard at Carndonagh are two pieces of a carved lintel from a much earlier christian church. These two carved stones are shown below.

Situated: On the beautiful Inishowen Peninsula. From Buncrana head north on the R238. Then turn right onto the R244. You will then meet the R238 again in Cardonagh. The Churchyard is on the right hand side at this junction.

Discovery Map 3: C 465 450. Last visit April 2010.

Longitude: 7° 16' 7.47" W

Latitude: 55° 14' 59.28" N

Google Map.

Photos: Jim Dempsey and Deb Snelson.

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