EMILI: Early Medieval Irish Latinate Inscriptions

DON-001. Clonca Inscribed Stone

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Description: National Monuments Service Record Number: DG012-002003-. An inscribed stone, (w: 0.32 x h: 0.15, converted from Macalister 1949, 115). The stone has been trimmed for re-use and built into the exterior west wall of the ruined church, near the north-west corner. It also has a carved representation of what looks to be mason's tools: a mallet and chisel, positioned above the inscription (Archaeology.ie; Hamlin 2001, 55).
Text: In the stone's current position, the inscription is in three, damaged and incomplete horizontal lines.
Letters: As noted by Macalister (1949, 116) the letters are quite crudely executed in half-uncial lettering. Nevertheless some letter-forms are of interest. Most of the A's are in the shape of a minuscule n with a short stroke off from the top right-hand corner. One A in line two has a sqare bow. Two of the Ds are open-bowed, two have a closed bow. In all four cases the ascender bends over the bow to the left. The one U is square, while the two Ls are curved in a fashion reminiscent of those at Lanrivoar in Brittany [LRVOA/1]. The S is half-uncial, while the two Gs differ markedly. The example in line one is in the shape of a crescent moon, with the opening facing up, with a separate horizontal stroke above it. The inscription also has two different Rs; one majuscule the other half-uncial. (Celtic Inscribed Stones Project).

Date: c. 12th century A.D.

Findspot: Macalister (1949, 115) credits W.J. Doherty with the first mention of this inscribed stone in 1891 at Clonca early church site (Monasticon Hibernicum database). There is much material attesting to the long ecclesiastical use of the site, from the Early Christian period to 1827 (Hamlin 2001, 55). Apart from the later church ruin, which incorporates earlier fragments, there are two high crosses, a bullaun stone, a cross-slab, a standing stone and a holy well, along with two later graveslabs, one of which has an inscription in the Lombardic script and a carved hurley and ball (Archaeology.ie).
Original location: Clonca (Cluain Catha), Co. Donegal, 55.267904, -7.173646.

Last recorded location: Findspot


[GNI ---]ỌG( vac. ) SO( vac. ) DO( vac. ) DOMNALL( vac. ) O R[---]


[...---].G  SO  DO  DOMNALL  OR[---]


...an Ó Dubdagáin has made? this... for Domnall Ó R...here


Unfortunately we are missing quite a bit of this inscription, proably due to trimming of the stone for use as a building block. It is probable that AN at the beginning is the end of a personal name (such as Flann, Éogan, Colmán, Bran), Ó Dubdagáin (O'Doogan), the family name (literally 'grandson/descendant of Dubdagán, a compound of dub 'black' + the name Dagán). However, DUBDAGAN rather than the expected gen. sg. DUBDAGAIN is found here. This family name is also recorded in a craft context at Devenish in Co. Fermanagh (Hamlin 2001, 55, 59).

There is a possible verb occuring in this inscription. DORI at the end of line one may, as suggested by Macalister, be a 3sg. (relative) augmented preterite form of do·gní 'to make' (perhaps do·rigni '(who) has made'). Not surprisingly, this verb is quite common in inscriptions where the craftsperson is named (Carpenter and Moss 2015, 512, 532-3) and the suggested form is the one most commonly found, for example, at Inishcaltra, Co. Clare (Okasha and Forsyth 2001, 52-3).

On the next line, what survives appears to suggest a noun ending in -og. Macalister suggested cloch 'stone' with G for CH, but this is unlikely. Also, the expected acc. sg. form of this ā-stem noun would be cloich. Furthermore, if we take the following SO as the demonstrative particle, then we would also expect the article in to come before the noun (in ...og-so 'this ?'). Whatever was made (?) by Ó Dubdagáin was for (DO) someone with the quite common name Domnall. The following OR suggests a family name Ó (earlier auë 'grandson, descendant') and a patronym beginning with R. In the final line the surviving four letters appear to represent a form of the word sund 'here'.

The carving of a mason's tools on this stone suggests a medieval, rather than early Christian date. The spelling Ó for ‘descendant’ and sunn for sund also suggest a rather late inscription.

Bibliography: Carpenter and Moss 2015, Appendix 1, 512, 532-533 ; Hamlin 2001, 55 ; Lacy 1983, 254-256 ; Macalister 1949, 115-116, no.948 ; Okasha and Forsyth 2001, 52-53
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