EMILI: Early Medieval Irish Latinate Inscriptions

KIK-003. Killamery 3. High Cross

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Description: National Monuments Service Record Number: KK030-008004-. A sandstone high cross (w: 1.16 (cross head max.) - 0.47 (cross shaft) x h: 2.86x d: 0.35 (cross shaft)) stands on a two-tiered base (dims. 1.25m square; H 0.7m). There is a raised heavy rope-like moulding around the edges which terminates at a projecting basal plinth which is formed at the base of the shaft. There is figurative carving in the cross heads and the panels are decorated with floral and interlace patterns. The west face bears most of the figure sculpture. Edwards (1990, 61) dates the high cross to the end of the 8th or first half of the 9th century (Detailed descriptions of the various features by Harbison (1992) are available at Archaeology.ie).
Text: On a panel on the western side of the base of the sculptured cross (above the two-tiered base). The lettering, in two lines, is in relief. The first four letters are clear, but the remainder is very obscure and densely covered with lichen (Macalister 1949, 25).
Letters: According to Macalister's (1949) sketch, the inscription is half-uncial though with majuscule R. The Es are closed and the first example is ligatured with the preceeding A. The Ls, particularly at the end of SECHNAILL, descend below the line.

Date: Unknown.

Findspot: The inscription appears to be first noted by Macalister (1949, 25) on the base of the shaft of the west face of the high cross, located in the graveyard (KK030-008010-). According to Carrigan (1905, vol. 4, 311-2) a monastery here was founded by St. Gobbán Finn early in the 7th century whose feast day is celebrated on the 6th of December. Of the monastic site only a high cross (KK030-008004-), two cross-slabs (KK030-008005-; KK030-008011-), a stone cross (KK030-008013-), the remains of a church (KK030-008003-) and two bullaun stones (KK030-008006-; KK030-008008-) are currently visible at the location (Archaeology.ie).
Original location: Killamery (Cill Lamraí), Co. Kilkenny, 52.475399, -7.445995.

Last recorded location: At the findspot in the graveyard.

Interpretive


[O]R(ÓIT) DO MAEL-
SECHNAILL

Diplomatic


[.]RDOMAEL
SECHNAILL

Translation:

A prayer for Máel Sechnaill

Commentary:

The inscription in this case is no longer legible and we are dependant on Macalister's (1949) reading. If accurate, the text may refer to Máel Sechnaill mac Máel Rúanaid (as commissioner of the cross) who, according to the Annals of Ulster, was ri hErenn uile 'king of all Ireland' and died in 862 AD (CELT - Corpus of Electronic Texts; Mac Airt and Mac Niocaill, 1983). This date is consistent with the dating proposed for the High Cross from a stylistic point of view.

Máel Sechnaill is one of a group of compound names which have as their second element the name of a saint in the genitive (in this case Sechnall 'small second-born', Lat. Secundinus) and a first element either máel 'devotee' (as here) or gilla 'servant' (as in Gilla Críst 'servant of Christ') (Okasha and Forsyth 2001, 32).

Bibliography: Carrigan 1905, vol. 4, 311-312 ; Edwards 1990, 61 ; Harbison 1992, vol. 1, 121-124 ; Macalister 1949, 25, no.572 ; Mac Airt and Mac Niocaill 1983, ; Okasha and Forsyth 2001
Text constituted from:

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