EMILI: Early Medieval Irish Latinate Inscriptions

DOW-001. Movilla Cross slab

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Description: Northern Ireland Sites and Monuments Record Number: DOW 006:013. Stone cross slab, described by Macalister (1949, 120) as micaceous sandstone (w: 0.52 x h: 1.21x d: 0.08). Described by Hamlin (2001, 56) (see also Lionard 1961, 125) as a damaged, irregularly shaped rectangular slab bearing an incised ringed cross. The cross-head has a distinctive feature found on many free-standing crosses: the semi-circular projections on the inner circumference of the ring. The only other Irish example I have noted on a slab is at Kilbrecan [i.e. Templebrecan] on Inishmore in the Aran Islands [GAL-009]. The very precise geometrical construction of the cross-head is also unusual.
Text: The inscription is pecked and arranged vertically downwards parallel to the stem of the cross (Hamlin 2001, 56; Macalister 1949, 121).
Letters: Half-uncials with majuscule R, contraction mark over the OR, two forms of E, one open, the other closed, and Ds, two examples open-bowed, with the ascenders bending to the left over the bow (Celtic Inscribed Stones Project). The letters decease in height, from beginning to end.

Date: Tenth or eleventh century A.D.?

Findspot: The inscribed slab was dug up in about 1840 in Movilla graveyard. Movilla was one of UIlster's most important ecclesiastical sites, head church of the Dál Fiatach kings and clearly a large, complex settlement (Hamlin 2001, 56; Monasticon Hibernicum database).
Original location: Movilla (Maigh Bhile), Co. Down, 54.595907, -5.674591.

Last recorded location: Following discovery, the inscribed stone was removed to an adjoining garden: but afterwards restored to its proper place (Macalister 1949, 120-1). Now set with a group of Anglo-Norman coffin-lids into the north wall of the ruined Agustinian Abbey church at Movilla (Hamlin 2001, 56).






A prayer for Deirdriu(?)


The name Dertrend (genitive singular form) has not been identified and is difficult to make sense of etymologically. If it is identical with Deirdriu (even though presumably referring to a male), the spelling looks rather more Middle Irish (c. 10th–12th centuries) than Old Irish (c. 8th–9th centuries), when we would expect Deirdrenn.

Bibliography: Hamlin 2001, 56 ; Jope 1966, 283-4 ; Lionard 1961, 125 ; Macalister 1949, 120-21, no.953 ; Petrie 1878, 72
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