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A Merovingian Background for the Ardmoneel Stone?

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A Merovingian Background for the Ardmoneel Stone?
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  This content downloaded from www.corkhist.ieAll use subject to CHAS Terms and ConditionsDigital content (c) CHAS 2017   A Merovingian Background for   the Ardmoneel Stone? By JOHN SHEEHAN   {Dept of Archaeology, UCC)  INTRODUCTION  The inscribed stone at Ardmoneel, on the outskirts of Killorlin, Co! Kerr", #as first brouht to notice in $%&' #hen (isited b" members of the Ro"al )ociet" of Anti*uaries of Ireland some of #hom took ad(antae of the occasion to make a rubbin of its cross+inscribed face! A linedra#in, based on this rubbin, #as subse*uentl" -ublished .unfor+tunatel" in(erted/ in the )ociet"0s Journal,  and #as accom-anied b" a brief descri-ti(e note in #hich it #as remarked that the stone had 1no histor", local or other#ise0$! 2ionard, in his im-ortant #ork on earl" Irish ra(eslabs #hich #as -ublished o(er fift"  "ears later,3makes no mention of this rather unusual stone 4 -resumabl" because he rearded its function as nonse-ulchral i(en its isolated conte5t! It #as not until fifteen  "ears ao, #ith the -ublication of 6arrin+ton0s Discovering Kerry,  that the loo- on the u--er shaft of the cross #as first identified as the rho   element of the chi-rho   s"mbol!7In her -ro(isional list of Irish chi-rhos,  ho#e(er, 8amlin onl" tentati(el" includes the Ardmoneel e5am-le, not ha(in had the o--ortunit" of ins-ectin it -ersonall"!9In a recent article 8erit" -ublished the Killorlin stone and confirmed 6arrinton0s identification of its chi-rho   element!:8e then oes on to make the interestin sues+tion that the o(erall desin of its inscribed face .and of a number of other Irish car(ed stones/ is related to certain of the cross+bearin -aes of earl" Irish manuscri-ts!' The main -ur-ose of this short -a-er is to-resent the suestion that the ma;or dianostic features of the Ardmoneel desin should be rearded as bein deri(ed from the <ero(inian stonecar(in traditions of south#est =aul!D>)CRI?TION AND CONT>@T  The Ardmoneel stone has been satisfactoril" described in the -a-er b" 8erit" referred to abo(e! Its main features are here restated in summar" form as an aid to#ards follo#in the discussion belo#! The stone is a lo# boulder #ith the desin occurrin on its flat u--er surface .i! $/! >5ecuted in sim-le roo(es, this essentiall" consists of a tri-learmed cross contained #ithin a rectanular frame! The latter0s cor+ners are ornamented #ith sim-le semi+circular loo-s #hich enclose their outer anles! <id#a" alon each of the short sides of the frame are Tsha-ed motifs #ith in+turned terminals, and at the mid-oint of each of its lon sides are -oorl"-reser(ed (ariations of these motifs! The cross #hich the frame encloses is of linear t"-e and features three s"mmetricall"dis-osed arms! 6oth its shaft and arms terminate in sim-le e5-ansions, #hile the u--er terminal of the shaft features a -ronounced loo- to the (ie#er0s riht 4 the rho   element of the chi-    rho   s"mbol 4 #hich also terminates in a sim-le e5-ansion! The stone lies #ithin a fe# metres of the Ardmoneelarrantoreen to#nland boun+dar", close to the southern bank of the Ri(er 2aune #hich runs from 2ouh 2eane to  JCHAS   Bol! %% .$%%9/ 377$ 37   This content downloaded from www.corkhist.ieAll use subject to CHAS Terms and ConditionsDigital content (c) CHAS 2017  Cork Historical and Archaeological Society  50 cm i! $! Crossinscribed stone from Ardmoneel, Co! Kerr"    This content downloaded from www.corkhist.ieAll use subject to CHAS Terms and ConditionsDigital content (c) CHAS 2017  A Merovingian Background or the Ard!oneel Stone" #$  close to the southern bank of the Ri(er 2aune #hich runs from 2ouh 2eane to Castlemaine 8arbour! It is located close to a fordable -oint of the ri(er in (er" o(erro#n, marsh" land, #hich is liable to fre*uent floodin! There is no ob(ious trace of an earl" ecclesiastical site in the (icinit" of the stone, thouh c%  7&&m do#nstream 4 on the o--osite bank of the ri(er 4 is the medie(al -arish church and ra(e"ard of Droma(all" #hich ma", -erha-s, occu-" the site of an earl" foundation! The Ardmoneel stone is ;ust one of a number of earl" slabs and boulders in Kerr" #hich bear (arious t"-es of inscribed crosses but #hich a-+-arentl" occur in nonecclesiastical conte5ts!DI)CU))ION )ome of the elements #hich are combined in the desin of the Ardmoneel stone ma" be indi(iduall" -aralleled on earl" stone car(ins in south#estern Ireland! The tri-le+armed crossform, for instance, occurs on t#o stones on the Dinle -eninsula a cross+slab from 2atee(emoreand an oham stone from Rathduff!E There is no indi+cation of -riorit" bet#een the cross and in+scri-tion on the latter, and the" ma", indeed, be contem-orar"! 8erit" suests that the cross car(ed on a no#broken slab from 6all"morereah ma" oriinall" ha(e been tri-learmed, thouh this is uncertain!%The doublearmed cross form, #hich ma" #ell be deri(ed from the tri-learmed t"-e,$&oc+curs more commonl" in the south and #est #ith e5am-les on record from Kerr", the Aran Islands and Doneal!$$2inear crosses contained #ithin anular frames are eneral+l" of rare occurrence, thouh s*uare and rec+tanular forms #ithout crosses are on record from a small number of inscribed stones on the Dinle -eninsula!$3None of these, ho#e(er, e5hibits the ornamental motifs #hich are a feature of the marin of the frame of the Ardmoneel stone! The chi-rho   element of the Ardmoneel cross is not -aralleled on an" of the stones noted abo(e! The monoram form of this Christian s"mbol is of rare occurrence in Ireland, but no less than half of the un+e*ui(ocall" identifiable e5am-les are found on the Dinle and I(erah -eninsulas!$78ere four chi-rhos   are on record .includin the Ardmoneel e5am-le/, #hile a -ossible fifth instance occurs on the recentl" disco(ered crossinscribed oham stone from Killeenleah, near Fater(ille!$9rom else#here in Ireland onl" fi(e definite e5+am-les ha(e been identified .see n! $7/, all but one of #hich occur in the #estern coun+ties! The identification of the Ardmoneel e5+am-le is of some im-ortance in that, firstl", it introduces a ne# element to the (aried re-ertoire of Irish chi-rho   forms noted b" 8amlin .8erit" -ro-oses the e5istence of a number of 1loose rou-ins0 #ithin this re-ertoire, #ith some ;ustification, but incor+rectl" allies the Ardmoneel e5am-le #ith those from Inis Cealtra and Kilshanni in #hich the rho   is re-resented in *uite a dif+ferent fashion/,$7and secondl", it reinforces the markedl" south#estern distribution of this introduced s"mbol! The three main features of the Ardmoneel stone 4 the tri-learmed cross, the chi-rho,  and the enclosin rectanular frame #ith its marinal elaboration 4 do not occur in combination on an" other e5am-le of Irish stonecar(in! The -resence of the chi-rho,  a s"mbol #hich #as in common use in =aul, )-ain and the <editerranean lands durin the fifth, si5th and se(enth centuries, su+ests that the other elements of the desin ma" also be deri(ed from such a back+round! It is here -ro-osed that this is in fact the case, and that the essential elements of the Ardmoneel desin are best -aralleled in the milieu of <ero(inian =aul! The tri-learmed cross, or 1Cross of 2orraine0, is the most common form of    This content downloaded from www.corkhist.ieAll use subject to CHAS Terms and ConditionsDigital content (c) CHAS 2017  #& Cork Historical and Archaeological Society  (c) i! 3! 2oo-edcorner motif .a/ from sarco+-haus lid, 6a-tister" of )t! Gohn, ?oitiersH .b/ from beltbuckle, )aint=enisd08iersacH .c/ from crossslab, Tem-le 6recan, Inishmore decoration on the limestone sarco-hai of <ero(inian A*uitaine, -articularl" in the ?oitou reion! The ?oite(in sarco-hai -re+sent a strikin unit" of st"le #hich o#es (er" little to the classical #orld, and date from the earl" fifth to the se(enth centuries!$'In con+ ;unction #ith the tri-learmed cross, a num+ber of these monuments bear outline s*uare and rectanular motifs #ith loo-ed corners #hich the Ardmoneel frame #ith its semicir+cular loo-s ma" #ell be deri(ed from! >5am+-les of this -eculiarl" ?oite(in motif occur on sarco-hai lids from Antin" and ?oitiers!$)alin sa# it as bein of eastern <editerranean deri(ation,$Ethouh Games has no# con(in+cinl" arued that it is of =allic oriin #here it often occurs amonst the decorati(e ele+ments of A*uitanian beltbuckles of late si5th and se(enthcentur" date!$%On such buckles the desin is almost al#a"s combined #ith other motifs and of -articular interest are a number of e5am-les on #hich crosses are contained #ithin the loo-ed s*uares in the eneral manner of the Ardmoneel desin!3&It is sinificant that the dominant conte5ts of the ?oite(in com-aranda for each of the three main features of the Ardmoneel desin are funerar"! The re-ertoire of motifs on the Kerr" slab, ho#e(er, is not found combined in such a manner on the =allic material, and the former should -robabl" be (ie#ed as the result of an e5-erimental combination undertaken b" a nati(e Irish stonecar(er of these alien forms! The tri-learmed cross, #hich on ?oite(in sarco-hai is normall" e5+ecuted in broad, lo#relief bands, occurs here in the sinleline form so characteristic of the >arl" 8istoric crossinscribed stones of Kerr",3$#hile the loo-eds*uare motif has been elonated to rectanular form in order to accommodate the cross itself! On the ?oite(in material the loo-edcord motifs are accom-lished usin a sim-le interlace techni*ue, but on the Ardmoneel slab these are reduced to -lain corner loo-s! The (a) (b)   This content downloaded from www.corkhist.ieAll use subject to CHAS Terms and ConditionsDigital content (c) CHAS 2017
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