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Staholmog Stone Figure
 

County

Meath

Coordinates

N 53° 46' 33.9"   W 006° 47' 32.46"

Nearest town

Nobber

Grid Ref.

N 79600 81399

Map No.

35

Elevation a.s.l. (m)

75

Date of visit

Saturday 25 May 2019

GPS Accuracy (m)

2
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The carved figure set into the boundary wall of the graveyard.


Along the N52, about halfway between Kells and the junction with the R162, within the grounds of St. Michael's church, there are the ruins of an old church and a few interesting fragments from a chest tomb.
The church lies in ruins, and according an old source, it was in ruin by 1641. The remains of the building are totally covered with ivy and no details can be seen. Furthermore it has been fenced off because a recent attempt for a burial within the ruins made the floor collapse, and this exposed previous ancient burials along with some bones. A local told me that they're waiting for the Heritage Service to come, but he thinks it will take ages.

Close to the southeast corner of the ruins there are three fragments on the ground. The fragments have elegant decorations in high relief. On one of these fragments some small crosses can be seen. The largest fragment is covered with moss and the carvings are hidden.
To the south of the ruins there's a burial marked with a pillar of a table tomb, or, maybe, this pillar is all that survives of the table tomb.
It is believed that the three fragments lying on the ground nearby were part of the same tomb.

The most interesting item at Staholmog, though, is a figure carved in bas-relief on a square slab set halfway into the northeast (55°) wall of the new section of the graveyard. This is known as the "Orans".
The slab is at 20 centimetres from the ground, measures 65 centimetres of width and 60 centimetres of height. The figure is standing, naked except for a loin cloth, with its feet aligned with the bottom edge and pointing outwards. Its arms are slightly raised, with its palms facing front, in the act of praying, hence the name "orans", which in Latin means "the one who is praying".
The head of the figure is missing, badly and intentionally damaged in more recent times.
The slab faces southwest (235°).

A local man, a scholar, who was there during our visit, told us that there are four more carved figures like this in Ireland, one being at Castlemagner.


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