EMILI: Early Medieval Irish Latinate Inscriptions

ANT-001. Kilconriola Cross Slab

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Description: Northern Ireland Sites and Monuments Record Number: ANT032:059. Stone cross slab, described by Hamlin (2001, 54) as basalt (w: 0.46 x h: 0.52). A roughly rectangular slab broken along the base. It has a ringed outline cross with three expanded T-bar terminals. Veritcal and horizontal cracks running through the centre of the cross have been repaired and conserved (NISMR Database). Macalister (1949, 112) described the surface as slightly convex.
Text: The inscription is pecked (pocked and rubbed Macalister 1949, 112) and arranged horizontally in two lines around the four quadrants of the cross outside the ring (Hamlin 2001, 54).
Letters: The lettering is in half-uncial, although it includes a capitalis N. Two open-bowed Ds with the ascender curving to the left, one with a heart-shaped bow, a majuscule R, two open Es with an extended horizontal stroke, the first example ligatured with a half-uncial G (Celtic Inscribed Stones Project).

Date: c. 639 A.D. (Archaic OIr.)?

Findspot: Found, according to different accounts, in 1827 or in 1868, either while levelling the earthen enclosure of the graveyard, or during grave digging. It was drawn by W.H. Patterson in 1869 and this drawing was published by Petrie in 1872 (Hamlin 2001, 54). Although not documented in early written sources, Kilconriola was probably an early church site (Monasticon Hibernicum database). The place-name was originally a cell form (from Latin cella); a souterrain runs under the graveyard; and an early ecclesiastical bell from Cabragh may have come from the site. These factors and the inscribed slab all point to early activity at Kilconnriola (Hamlin 2001, 54).
Original location: Kilconriola, later 'Kirkinriola' (Cill Chon Riala), Co. Antrim, 54.897136, -6.264663.

Last recorded location: The slab was taken for safety to St Patrick's Church of Ireland Church in nearby Ballymena (54.8627777, -6.2733383), and in 1927 was set in its present position in the church porch. The cracks suggest that it was in two or three pieces when it was set in the porch (Hamlin 2001, 54; Lawlor 1938, 32).

Interpretive

OR(ÓI)T DO
DEGEN

Diplomatic

ORTDO
DEGEN

Translation:

A prayer for Degen

Commentary:

Usually the abbreviated form of oróit 'prayer' is marked with a suspension stroke over OR but here the final T is also included.

Lawlor (1938, 34-5) claimed that Degen could be identified with a bishop Dagán of the community of Bangor (Co. Down), mentioned in Bede's Ecclesiastical History (II.4) and also with Daghan Inbir Dáile who's death is noted in the annals in 639AD. However, Hamlin (2001, 55) points out that Dagán of Inber Dáile was a Leinster saint from County Wicklow. Degen of Kilconriola remains unidentified, but the vocalism could indeed point to an early date.

Bibliography: Crawford 1912, 217-244 ; Hamlin 2001, 54 ; Lawlor 1938, 32-35 ; Macalister 1949, 112, no.943 ; MacNeill 1909, 333 ; MacNeill 1911, 79 ; Petrie 1845, 164 ; Petrie 1878, 73, fig. 80 ; Stokes and Strachan 1903, 286 .
Text constituted from:

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