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).

Interpretive

OR(ÓIT) DO DERTREND

Diplomatic

ORDODERTREND

Translation:

A prayer for Deirdriu(?)

Commentary:

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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