EMILI: Early Medieval Irish Latinate Inscriptions

DON-002. Fahan Mura Cross

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Description: National Monuments Service Record Number: DG038-013002-. Stone cross, described by Macalister (1949, 120) as `shale-like stone' w: 1.04 x h: 2.10x d: 0.18 (Lacy 1983, 268). An upright slab with triangular top... The corners have a roll moulding, and the tenons project from the narrow sides to a maximum of 7cm. The south side is undecorated. On each side is carved a cross formed of broad double-edged interlaced ribbon. On both faces this consists of a Greek cross mounted on a stem giving the effect of a Latin cross (full description at Archaeology.ie). According to local tradition this slab marks the grave of St. Muru.
Text: On the west face, Macalister (1949, 118) read a horizontal, pocked and rubbed inscription (1) beginning (with 'BENDEXT') underneath the arms of the cross on both sides and above and heads of the two carved figures (Bishop and King?), continuing on the robes of the figures in two columns, first the left (AR ARDEBSCOP MARGA UA RINAGAIN), then the right (...SIR RIG TADGAIN). However, others (including Henry 1965, 125-8) have expressed doubts about this inscription. On the north side there is also a less weathered, two-line Greek inscription (2) running vertically upwards, Macalister's reading of which has been generally accepted.
Letters: Based on Macalister's (1949, 118) illustration, the inscription on the West face is in Insular half-uncial. The Bs and Ds are generally open-bowed; the A's vary between an almost square bow, and the 'OC' A. The Gs are all half-uncial while some of the Es have a closed, and others an open, bow. Alongside a number of majuscule Rs there is one half-uncial R. The M is reminiscent of the first M of line 2 at Llanllyr in Cardigan [LLLYR/1]. There are no ligatures, but a number of letters, such as X and T, A and R, S and C, are conjoined (Celtic Inscribed Stones Project). The Greek inscription is in a mixture of majuscule and minuscule Greek letters, especially the Α/α, Ξ/ξ and the Ω/ω. ΤΙΜΕ is an error for ΤΙΜΗ. This shows that whoever wrote this inscription pronounced Greek in the ancient classical way [tiˈmeː], not in the modern way [tiˈmiː] as it would already have been pronounced at his time.

Date: c. 8th–9th centuries A.D.

Findspot: Macalister (1949, 118) credits W.J. Doherty with the first mention of this inscribed stone in 1881 at Fahan Mura (named after the founder and first abbot, St Mura) early church site (Monasticon Hibernicum database). The early ecclesiastical site of Fahan consists of a modern graveyard, at a bend in the road. It is possible that this bend may reflect something of an earlier enclosure. Inside the graveyard (DG038-013004-) is part of a ruined church (Fahan old church: DG038-013001)... On the outside wall of the graveyard on the S side of the entrance is a small slab (DG038-013003-) .41mx .32m. On this is a carved wheeled cross. This stone is very similar to another found near Clonca (DG012-002009-)... About 350m NW of the churchyard and close to the shore is a holy well (DG038-012-) dedicated to St. Mura. (Archaeology.ie).
Original location: Fahan (Fathain), townland of Glebe, Co. Donegal, 55.083141, -7.460638.

Last recorded location: Findspot

Interpretive

1


[---]-

-

E

AR +++-
5EBṢC̣[OB]
ṂAN-
G̣ẠỤṢ-
ẠṚỊ+-
+GẠ++
10RÁỊ+-
c. 5-
c. 5-
S+ṚṚỊ
[TA?]D[G?-]
15ẠỊ[N?]
2
ΔΟΞΑ ΚΑΙ ΤΙΜΕ ΠΑΤΡΙ ΚΑΙ ΥΙΩ
ΚΑΙ ΠΝΕΥΜΑΤΙ ΑΓΙΩ

Diplomatic

1


[---]



E
.

AR···
5EB..[..]
.AN
....
...·
·G.··
10RA.·
·····
·····
S·...
[..]D[.-]
15..[.]
2
ΔΟΞΑΚΑΙΤΙΜΕΠΑΤΡΙΚΑΙΥΙΩ
ΚΑΙΠΝΕΥΜΑΤΙΑΓΙΩ

1: Macalister 1945, 118: BENDEXT AR ARDEBSCOP MARGA UA RINAGAIN [RAB I N-ABAIDECHT IN AIM]SIR RIG TADGAIN

Translation:

Irish inscription on west face (according to Macalister's (1949, 118) reading): 'A blessing upon the Archbishop Marga ua Rinagain [who was in the abbacy?] in the time of King Tadgán'.

Greek inscription on north side (Macalister 1949, 120): 'Glory and honour to the father the son and the holy spirit'.

Commentary:

The text of the longer, Irish inscription on the west face (robes of the figures) is now very weathered and we can only be certain of a few of the letters. As regards dating the inscription, a possible spelling ebscob could be early, but the rest is too fragmentary to say anything further. Regarding the stone generally, Stevenson (1985, 92-94), argues on the basis of numerous paralells drawn from Scotland, England, Man and Ireland, for a tenth or eleventh century date, while Edwards (1985, 395-396), suggests an eighth-century date.

The Greek text on the north edge of the stone has a liturgical origin and records the doxologogy 'Glory and honour to the father the son and the holy spirit', which first appeared in the Acts of the Fourth Council of Toledo in 633 (Moran 2012, 175; Hillgarth 1962, 193).

Bibliography: Edwards 1985, 395-396 ; Harbison 1992, vol. 1. 88-9 ; Henry 1965, 125-8 ; Hillgarth 1962, 193 ; Lacy 1983, 268-9 ; Macalister 1929, 89-98 ; Macalister 1949, 118-20, no.951 ; Moran 2012, 175 ; Okasha and Forsyth 2001, 52-3 Stevenson 1985, 92-5
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