The Cross of Moone

Hello!

This is my 20th post, which is very exciting, and I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone who has read, liked, commented and followed. You’re all wonderful! And without further ado, the Cross of Moone:

West side

West side

Park at the green door, and slip through the slit in the wall. After a lot of driving around, these were our instructions to reach the high cross. The cross is located in the ruin of a church, and has a wonderful glass roof to protect it from the elements. It also provides shelter for the visitors, something we were glad of on a very rainy Irish day! The cross dates from the 12th century, it is tall and slender with a small ring. The long shaft leaves ample room for decoration, and most of the panels are decipherable.

East side - note Adam & Eve panel at the base of the shaft

East side

On the east side we have a familiar Adam and Eve motif. The tree is quite unusual in that the leaves curve over the figures and reach the ground. This panel is a little weathered, but is still legible. Below this panel is first a scene of Abraham about to execute Isaac, and then Daniel and the Lions. Again we see a geometric arrangement, with the lions biting onto the blocky figure of Daniel.

Adam & Eve, Abraham and Isaac, Daniel and the Lions

Adam & Eve, Abraham and Isaac, Daniel and the Lions

East side, Christ in Majesty spread across intersection of the cross

East side, Christ in Majesty spread across intersection of the cross

The north side of the cross features scenes from the life of St Anthony, my favourite of these panels is the many-headed beast which St Anthony hallucinated in the desert. The twisting necks are reminiscent of Celtic interlace.

Temptation of St Anthony, and the desert beast

Temptation of St Anthony, and the desert beast

The west side of the cross is topped with an abstract swirling pattern. Just below the shaft is a crucifixion scene, a common theme for high crosses. One of my favourite scenes on the cross is the twelve apostles on the base – I love the blocky figures, and their geometric arrangement.

The three Hebrews in the fiery furnace, and the twelve apostles

The three Hebrews in the fiery furnace, and the twelve apostles

Finally, the south side of the cross features the delightful scene of the Flight into Egypt, with the baby Jesus’ head popping over Mary’s shoulder. The bottom panel is that of the loaves and fishes. Interestingly, the fish are depicted twice. Perhaps those at the top of the panel are a later addition? It is a very abstract composition.

Flight into Egypt, Loaves and Fishes

Flight into Egypt, Loaves and Fishes. Note the beast like fish on either side of the loaves – perhaps these are the originals?

As well as the handy roof protecting the cross, there is plenty of information at the site. I found the panel about the holed cross particularly interesting, I hadn’t heard of this type of high cross before. There were some fragments on site, and a drawing of how the complete cross would have looked.

DSCF4334 DSCF4332

I loved this image on one of the information panels, which gives an idea of what the Cross of Moone would have looked like when it was fully painted. This can be quite hard to picture, especially given that we are so used to seeing all these monuments and buildings as made of plain stone. Images like these completely alter our idea of how these sculptures were intended to be seen.

DSCF4321

The Cross of Moone is well worth a visit, it is of great interest historically, artistically and religiously and is remarkably well-preserved. A real piece of heritage, and an artistic treasure.

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