EMILI: Early Medieval Irish Latinate Inscriptions

GAL-008. Templebrecan 8: Cross Slab

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Description: National Monuments Service Record Number: GA110-023013-. A large, rectangular cross-slab, of limestone (w: 0.46 x h: 1.41x d: 0.12) with a two line Latin cross having circular expansions in the intersections and at the terminals. There are also a pair of linear flanking crosses (or thieves’ crosses) in each of the upper quadrants.
Text: A three-line inscription, now almost illegible, is positioned across the lower two quadrants of the cross. Both the cross and the inscription have been executed by pocking (Higgins 1987, 324).
Letters: The lettering is half-uncial. The drawing in Higgins (1987, Fig. 46), shows only an half-uncial R, an A in the 'OC' form, and a majuscule S. He also notes the deterioration in the stone's condition, and the legibility of the inscription, since Macalister's visit. His illustration of the stone shows only a handful of legible letters. Despite this, Higgins follows Macalister's reading, which, he comments, `seems likely to be accurate' (Celtic Inscribed Stones Project).

Date: eighth/ninth century A.D.?

Findspot: First mentioned in 1878 by Petrie (Celtic Inscribed Stones Project). This is one of eight cross-slabs (see also GA110-023014- to GA110-023020-) associated with Leaba Bhreacáin ['Breacán's bed/grave'], one of five [leacht] leabaí or grave-plots associated with Teampall Bhreacáin (GA110-010001-) ['Breacán's church']. Along with Teampall an Phoill (GA110-010003-), Teampall Bhreacáin is part of a wider ecclesiastical complex known as na Seacht dTeampaill 'the Seven Churches'. Leaba Bhreacáin, is to the SW of Teampall Bhreacáin and 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).
Original location: Templebrecan (Teampall Bhreacáin), in the townland of Onaght (Eoghanacht), Inishmore (Árainn), Co. Galway, 53.145856, -9.777971.

Last recorded location: Now lying face down c. 1m to the W of the leaba (Archaeology.ie).

Interpretive

ORAIT
AR ANMAIN
SCANDLAIN

Diplomatic

ORAIT
ARANMAIN
SCANDLAIN

1: Petrie, G. (1878): ORAIT AR ANMAIN SEMBLAIN

Translation:

A prayer on behalf of the soul of Scandlán

Commentary:

The reading above is by Macalister (1949, 7). The inscription is currently face down and so cannot be examined. It appears to have been last seen by Waddell (1973, 17) when only the word ORAIT and the letter S on the third line could be made out.

The formula type oróit ar anmain 'a prayer on behalf of the soul...' is less common than the simpler oróit do/ar type. Okasha and Forsyth (2001, 28) note that Macalister lists seven examples, three from Clonmacnoise and one each from Fuerty, Co. Roscommon; Kilcummin, Co. Mayo; Killamery, Co. Kilkenny and this one.

The personal name Scandlán is fairly common in early medieval Ireland and includes a Scandlán h-Ui Eirc, sui-epscop 7 abb Inse Cathaig 'learned bishop and abbot of Scattery island' who's obit occurs in the Annals of Inishfallen in the year 974 AD (CELT - Corpus of Electronic Texts). Linguistically, this inscription could be Old Irish (8/9th century). It is also noteworthy that the name Scandlán is also found twice on cross-slabs (GA119-020004- and GA119-020008-) from another site on the island: Teaglach Éinne/Cill Éinne (Macalister 1949, 5 nos. 529 and 530; Monasticon Hibernicum Database).

Bibliography: Higgins 1987, vol. 2, 324, no.50 ; Macalister 1949, 7, no.538 ; Petrie 1878, vol. 2, 22, Plate XVI ; Stokes and Strachan 1903, 288 ; Waddell 1973, 17, no.3
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