EMILI: Early Medieval Irish Latinate Inscriptions

FER-003. Aghavea Inscribed Stone

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Description: A rectangular, inscribed stone, described by Macalister (1949, 126) as 'grit’, w: 0.36 x h: 0.69 (converted from Macalister 1949, 126).
Text: The inscription is carefully worked in two lines with deep, V-sectioned letters (Hamlin 2001, 58).
Letters: The entry in the Celtic Inscribed Stones Project database notes that a very squat form of Insular half-uncial, especially in the first line. In part this was achieved by bending the ascenders of the Ds until almost horizontal. The U is square-bottomed, the S and R majuscule, the bow of the A almost triangular (as at FINNE/1). Only the long descenders of the Ps break the squat appearance of the lettering. The initial OR has a contraction mark over it, as does the P and IT of the second line. The initial OR is also ligatured.

Date: late eighth/early ninth century A.D.

Findspot: Hamlin (2001, 58) notes that the stone was 'found in an old wall near Brookbroough'. Brookeborough is in Aghavea parish, and there can be little doubt that the stone came from the Church of Ireland site in Aghavea townland(?). Aghavea is associated with Lasair, commemorated at 13 November in the Martyrology of Gorman (glossed 'of Achad Beithe'). A late Life of the Saint associates her with Aghavea and her bell was used for tax-collecting and holding water. The church re-emerges in written sources as a late medieval parish church, and the medieval and modern churches occupied the ancient church site. The present topography, including traces of a large curvilinear enclosure, indicates early activity, and the inscribed stone must fit at some poin in this long history (Hamlin 2001, 58-9; Monasticon Hibernicum Database).
Original location: Aghavea (Achadh Bheithe), Co. Fermanagh, 54.296913, -7.431514.

Last recorded location: Macalister (1949, 126) noted that the stone was presented to the Royal Irish Academy in 1857 by Rev. J. Caldwell, and now in the National Museum, Dublin. (Inv. no. W22)





1: Read by Petrie (1878, 74) as OROIT DO DUNCHAD PRESPITER HIC.


A prayer for Dunchad, the little priest.


The reference to Dunchad's position as priest is most unusual in an Irish inscription, and so is the epithet BIC, though it appears in the Kilnasaggart inscription. The use of P rather than B (presbiter) is quite common in Hiberno-Latin, but the use of the Latin word in an otherwise Irish inscription is not (Hamlin 2001, 58).

It is perhaps indicative of a later Old Irish date that here we find dative bic (of o, ā-stem adjective becc 'small, little') rather than earlier biuc.

Bibliography: Hamlin 2001, 58 ; Macalister 1949, 126, no.965 ; Petrie 1878, 74 ; Stokes and Strachan 1903, 287
Text constituted from:



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