EMILI: Early Medieval Irish Latinate Inscriptions

GAL-001. Templebrecan 1: Cross Slab

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Description: National Monuments Service Record Number: GA110-023015-. A broken, roughly subrectangular, limestone cross slab, w: 0.70 x h: 1.12x d: 0.14. About half of it has been broken away, but the majority of the carved area remains... The stone bears a two-line Greek cross enclosed by a double ring. The terminals of this, which are wedge-shaped, are cut by the innermost of these rings and are delimited by a groove and bear a small, centrally placed `cup mark' or depression (Higgins 1987, 358).
Text: The inscription, now fragmentary, is spread across the four cantons of the cross horizontally. The cross and inscription were both pocked using a point and the execution of the design was well done (Higgins 1987, 358).
Letters: The lettering is Insular half-uncial. The B has a wedge-shaped finial. It also has a slightly curved ascender and an open bow. The R and probably the S are in the half-uncial forms. The E is in the open uncial form with an extended horizontal stroke. The N is minuscule (Celtic Inscribed Stones Project). Macalister (1949, 5) noted that most of the S is broken away: Petrie missed it and read C~I~ which he expanded into Capiti, a reading even yet occasionally copied, though it has no intelligible meaning. The CA of the name is also broken away with the quadrant of the circle which contained them. The true reading was first determined by Ferguson (1879, 257).

Date: Unknown.

Findspot: Discovered in the early 1800s inside the supposed tomb of Saint Breccán, the church's presumed founder. This is one of five [leacht] leabaí or grave-plots associated with Teampall Bhreacáin (GA110-010001-) ['Breacán's church'] and Teampall an Phoill (GA110-010003-) [part of a wider ecclesiastical complex known as na Seacht dTeampaill 'the Seven Churches']. This example, known as Leaba Bhreacáin ['Breacán's bed/grave'], is to the SW of Teampall Bhreacáin. It consists of a low subrectangular platform (c. 5.1m N-S; 4-5m E-W; H 0.35m) that is defined by a kerb of limestone blocks (T 0.12-0.38m) (Archaeology.ie; Monasticon Hibernicum Database). This is one of eight cross slabs (see also GA110-023013- to GA110-023014- and GA110-023016- to GA110-023020-) associated with Leaba Bhreacáin.
Original location: Templebrecan (Teampall Bhreacáin), in the townland of Onaght (Eoghanacht), Inishmore (Árainn), Co. Galway, 53.145856, -9.777971.

Last recorded location: Set against the N revetment of the leaba (Archaeology.ie).

Interpretive

S(AN)C(T)I BRE-
[CA]NI

Diplomatic

SCIBRE
[..]NI

Translation:

of Saint Breccán

Commentary:

Although recording an Irish name, Breccán 'little speckled one', this inscription is in Latin with genitive singular endings. One of many early medieval Irish saints with this name.

Here we have an example of one of the Nomina Sacra abbreviations, in this case the genitive form (Sancti) of Latin Sanctus 'saint'. The text is probably dedicatory, recording the donation or dedication of the site to the eponymous saint. This is comparable to a less clear example at Kilfountain, Co. Kerry: [SCI] F̣INTEN .

Bibliography: Ferguson 1879, 257 ; Higgins 1987, vol. 2, 358, no. 80 ; Macalister 1895, 379-80 ; Macalister 1949, 5, no.531 ; Petrie 1878, vol. 2, 19, Plate XII ; Stokes and Strachan 1903, 286 ; Waddell 1973, 17-18, no. 4
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