EMILI: Early Medieval Irish Latinate Inscriptions

GAL-009. Templebrecan 9: Cross Slab

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Description: National Monuments Service Record Number: GA110-023022-. A rectangular cross slab of local limestone (w: 0.38 x h: 0.82x d: 0.12) bearing an incised, ringed cross with ornamented lobes projecting from the ring to the interior in each quadrant, a feature more commonly found on high crosses, on a roughly rectangular base.
Text: The inscription runs beneath the ring and across the shaft of the cross with the A of TOMAS between the lines of the shaft. The whole of the design including the inscription has been executed with a small pocking tool, probably a point (Higgins 1987, 372).
Letters: The lettering is half-uncial. The initial T has a curved ascender and a flat top-stroke. The S is half-uncial, the As minuscule and the M is minuscule with an almost flat single top stroke. The P has a rounded open bow. (Celtic Inscribed Stones Project).

Date: Unknown.

Findspot: Found by Petrie in 1822 in Teampall Bhreacáin (GA110-010001-) (Waddle 1973, 21, no. 12). This is one of four cross slabs (see also GA110-023021-, GA110-023023- and GA110-023024-) now associated with St Brecan’s Grave (GA110-023009-) (Archaeology.ie). St Brecan’s Grave is one of five leabaí or grave-plots (see also GA110-023001-, GA110-023002-, GA110-023003- and GA110-023005-) associated with Teampall Bhreacáin ['Breacán's church'] (GA110-010001-) and Teampall an Phoill (GA110-010003-) [part of a wider ecclesiastical complex known as na Seacht dTeampaill 'the Seven Churches']. The multiple grave plot is labelled ‘St Brecan’s Grave’ by Robinson (1980). However, Waddell (1973, 26) equates the grave with Leaba Bhreacáin (GA110-023001-). It consists of a rectangular area (5m NNE-SSW; 2m NNW-SSE) bounded by a kerb of thin limestone slabs. The enclosed area is further subdivided into five slab-covered graves (Archaeology.ie; Waddell 1973, 5-27; Monasticon Hibernicum Database).
Original location: Templebrecan (Teampall Bhreacáin), in the townland of Onaght (Eoghanacht), Inishmore (Árainn), Co. Galway, 53.145874, -9.777290.

Last recorded location: At St Brecan’s Grave, the second cross slab from the S (Archaeology.ie).

Interpretive

TOMAS AP(STAL)

Diplomatic

TOMASAP

Translation:

Thomas the Apostle

Commentary:

Macalister (1949, 8) suggested that the abbreviation AP- may be for Latin Apostolus, in which case the stone would be dedicatory, not a memorial : or for ab, "abbot," although there does not seem to be any record of an ecclesiastic of this name and rank anywhere near the place and probable time of this stone. It could also be the Irish word apstal 'apostle'. Compare the Kilnasaggart inscription which mentions Peter the apostle.

Bibliography: Higgins 1987, vol. 2, 372, no.92 ; Macalister 1949, 8, no.539 ; Petrie 1878, vol. 2, 22, Plate XV ; Stokes and Strachan 1903, 286 ; Waddell 1973, 21, no.12
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