Clonmacnoise - North Cross High Cross




N 53° 19' 35.4"   W 007° 59' 10.14"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

N 00922 30695

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Wednesday 20 June 2018

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The north Cross seen from the northeast. On the left-hand side of the photo is the Cathedral with its Whispering Arch, on the opposite side is the Round Tower.

Clonmacnoise lies in a meander on the left bank of River Shannon, and it is one of the oldest early Christian settlements in Europe.

St. Ciarán along with Diarmait Uí Cerbaill founded it around 544 and he chose a central site in Ireland, at the crossroads of the main Irish river and the Esker Riada, the geological gravel and sand formation that stretches east-west across Ireland, so that the new monastery could be accessed from everywhere.
It soon became an important centre for studying religion and it attracted scholars and pupils from all over Europe, and grew into a large monastic city. It was also an important centre for craftmanship and trade.

In its best period it had up to 17 churches, but today only 7 of them survive in ruins. Along with these ruins, there are also three crosses and two round towers, one of which attached to a church.

The North Cross is north of the Cathedral, it's the oldest cross in the monastic settlement and is the only one without its head.
Only three of the four sides of the shaft are decorated. The east face is plain.
This cross is a replica, the original one is kept inside the Visitors' Centre for protection.

It's 2.02 metres tall, 33 centimetres wide and 36 centimetres thick.

The west face of the shaft has five panels all containing interlaced patterns.

The south side of the shaft has four panels. The top one depicts an animal that could be a lion, the second panel from the top has a double spiral motif, the third panel from the top shows a person sitting with crossed legs. The fourth and last panel shows an interlaced pattern.

The north side of the shaft has a long vertical panel with a human figure on the top. It looks like it's sitting with its legs crossed. Two animals, a bird-like one and a four-legged animal, stand below.
The middle panel shows something that looks like two birds with their neck crossed.
The bottom panel has an interlaced design.

The base of this cross looks like it is a re-used mill stone.

We came to Clonmacnoise for the first time on July 4th, 1994, and again on May 18th, 2002.

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