Rathdown Slab No 7

Rathmichael Church

Rathdown Slabs

There are a number of early Christian burial markers located around the Barony of Rathdown. Known as the Rathdown slabs, these markers feature decoration that points to them being Viking burial markers. It is known that many Vikings converted to christianity and settled in and around this area. The artwork consists of cup marks, some with concentric rings, some herringbone designs and some slabs featuring crosses, all consistent with Viking art and indeed the cup and rings are similar to those featured on neolithic rock art. There are nine Rathdown slabs located on the walls of Rathmichael church and a tenth slab is lay on it's side inside the chancel of the church. These slabs were also found at the following church sites, Ballyman, Dalkey, Kilgobbin, Killegar, Kiltiernan, Rathfarnham, Tully and Whitechurch.


Rathdown slabs from left to right, numbers 1, 2 and 3

Another example of a Rathdown slab was found recently by Christiaan Corlett at St Nahi's old graveyard in Dundrum and more recently a second slab was found at the same location. I hope to visit a few new locations featuring some more of the Rathdown slabs over the coming months and will update the site with new images.

Rathmichael Church

There is little remaining of the church at Rathmichael other than the east gable of the chancel and the southern wall of the nave. The chancel dates to the thirteenth century, but the nave may be earlier and stands inside an even earlier enclosure known as a rath or fort. The walls of the rath are over a metre in height with an entrance to the east. Also inside the enclosure are the remains of a round tower.


Rathdown slab No 4

Rathdown slab No 8

Situated: From the M50 take exit 15 and head up the Glenamuck road signposted Kilternan, at the T-Junction take a left for Kilternan then take another left down Ballycorus Rd. 2 miles down this road is a right turn down a narrow track just after the turn for Puck's Castle. Follow the track for about 400 metres the church is situated on your right just after the white gate.

Google Map

Discovery Map 50: O 2378 2187. Last visit Sept 2013.

Longitude: 6° 8' 45" W

Latitude: 53° 13' 58" N

Photos: Jim Dempsey.

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