Stamullen Grave Slab




N 53° 37' 43.74"   W 006° 15' 45.0"

Nearest town


Grid Ref.

O 14923 65739

Map No.


Elevation a.s.l. (m)


Date of visit

Thursday 23 May 2019

GPS Accuracy (m)

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The ruins of the church seen from the southeast (150°).

Stamullen is a village in county Meath and in the right centre of it there are the ruins of the St. Patrick's church which dates to the 13th century.
This church was built on the site of an earlier church, and at that time it must have been an impressive building in the Gothic style, with its length of 30 metres and its width of 7.50 metres, with a richly decorated roof and some nice windows, like the ones still visible in the east-northeast (70°) wall and in the north-northwest and south-southeast wall of the chancel.
In the nave is a roofed tomb for the Caddell family.
The church was still in use in the early 17th century, but it was reported in ruins by 1622.

Adjoining to the south-southeast side of the chancel is the St. Christopher's Chapel, now in ruins, for the Preston family, built in 1434. In origin this chapel would have an entrance from the church's chancel. Today the entrance is from a gated archway on the west-southwest wall. This archway has two nice side jambs, the north one is decorated with an upside down carved head.
It also has two carved heads projecting from the south-southeast wall at about 2.65 metres from the ground and about 85 centimetres apart.
This chapel holds two magnificent tombs for the Prestons. One is a cadaver slab, it dates back between the 1440 and 1450 and this makes this one the oldest cadaver slab of the nine cadaver tombs in Ireland.
The carving on the slab depicts the decomposing body of a young woman with a number of reptiles and other creatures feeding off her flesh. Her abdomen is totally empty, her ribs are visible. The body is wrapped in a shroud which is tied at the head and feet and open in the middle to expose the body. The slab measures 2.47 metres in length and 1.37 metres in width.
It is said this slab marks the burial of Jane Preston.

East of this slab lies another smaller slab, dating between 1530 and 1540, with a double effigy of William Preston and his second wife Eleanor Dowdall. William Preston is represented with an unusual armour, unique in Ireland's effigies. A sword can be seen by his side. Eleanor Dowdall wears a double neck chain and a jeweled cap. Two winged angels are between their heads. Two dogs rest under their feet. This carved slab is 1.98 metres long and 1.09 metres wide.

A crypt is under the floor of this chapel, with 8 recesses, but now it isn't accessible anymore. The caskets in those recesses are double caskets, red cedar inside, oak outside and a lead case between them. One of these caskets is in a recess on the left hand side under the cadaver tomb, and it's the only coffin with the damages from an attempt of break-in, possibly for treasure hunting. In this coffin the skull and some bones of the deceased have been exposed. In this underground crypt there's an altar as well, which is positioned at about one metre from the feet of the double effigy slab.

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