Wednesday 14 April 2010

The Standing Stone: The Nurney Crosses, Co. Carlow.

Location – In the small village or Nurney, about 5km E of Leighlinbridge.
OS: S 734 673 (map 61)
Longitude: 6° 54' 43.01" W
Latitude: 52° 45' 5.95" N
GPS: S 73459 67280 (Accuracy: 8m)

Description and History – I stopped here on the spur of the moment. I was actually heading somewhere else when I spotted the dots on the map and decided to make the detour and I was glad that I did. Although there isn’t a huge amount to see here what is there is very interesting. As you enter the yard of a relatively modern church it appears to be nothing special but then you begin to notice that this site stretches back into history. As you approach the church you notice the head of a simple cross. It is relatively small and very weathered but clearly very old and probably an early example of an Irish high cross. The edges of the cross have been moulded but there is little evidence of other decoration. It must have been a plain cross. As you move around to the rear of the church yard you are greeted by the site of a complete early Christian wheeled cross. It stands nearly 2.5m high and is just outside the churchyard in the neighbouring field. Unfortunately there were a lot of interested cattle in the field so I couldn’t get too close to it which is a shame as I would like to have seen the reverse side. The cross is big and chunky and you can definitely see how the later high crosses grew out of this style of design. I would like to see this cross moved into the church yard and away from the cattle in case it gets damaged. Luckily it doesn’t appear to have been used as a scratching post by the cattle. There is also a cross base in this field that I was unable to locate because I couldn’t get into the field to have a good look around...but that gives me an excuse to back.

Difficulty – Easy to get to and find. Mind the cattle in the field to the rear.

This post originally appeared on 'The Standing Stone' and can be found here.

The modern Church of Ireland church.

The smaller cross. It may have been originally painted which would explain why it is so plain.

This is the complete cross which we are lucky to have today. As you can see the cattle were beginning to gather so I stayed on the other side of the wall from them.


Bagenal Harvey said...

It seems strange that the churchyard of St. John's does not enclose the crosses but that can be accounted for by the lands having been once held as mensal lands. This Church of Ireland has been repointed recently and forms part of the Parish of Bagenalstown. The Catholic Parish website used to feature the Church of Ireland churches but unfortunately since its update that section has been dropped.

The reverse of the intact cross is identical but the articulation is far crisper. There are panels with celtic knotwork. The cross is in granite. This might account for the relatively good state of the cross as well as the absence of piercing. Three crosses stood on the site. I don't know the origins of the site but the name of the townland in Irish means prayer (An Urnaí), so there must have been some religious associations from an early date.

Anonymous said...

I really like these posts but I'd love to have a map showing where they all are.

Anonymous said...

Another very interesting and well illustrated post. Do you really travel to these various spots? You should give tours. I agree with Bagnal that it would be really interesting to know the origin of this site.

The Standing Stone said...

Unfortunately I was unable to find out much about the history of this site. There is a problem with castles and churches in Ireland that some just have no written records that survive. But that's not to say there isn't information out there so I will continue to look and update the post on here and on my own site where appropriate.

Maps is something that I have been asked about many times and is something I would like to incorporate into my website in the future. I'm working on it. Nevertheless I do provide Ordinance Survey co-ordinates, longitude and latitude and GPS co-ordinates and they are accurate. OS map 61 covers most of Carlow and should be available from most book shops. They're usually around €8 I think.

Yes I do go to these places. I usually get out at the weekend with my walking bag, camera, map and GPS and cover a particular area. I try to get around to many places in one day...I think last weekend I managed to get to 21 sites in Tipperary so I do get around.

Anonymous said...

The smaller cross looks like it is split. Is anything being done to conserve the site? The CoI don't seem to be making any efforts in that regard.

The Standing Stone said...

Nothing seems to be going on here in terms of preservation. The crosses are open to the elements all of the time. The cross also has to endure cattle using it as a scratching post. Judging by its angle I would say it could be toppled with little effort.

Random Thinker said...

I want to thank 'The Standing Stone' for this post. I would like to follow his visits some time. Will you be visiting Offaly sites?

God bless the work!

The Standing Stone said...

Yes I get to a lot of place in Offaly as I live about 1km away from the Laois/Offaly boarder. I will make sure an Offaly post is next. It may be outside of the diocese but will hopefully still be of interest to you all.

An Auld Dubliner said...

Well done! You give us much to read and think about.

Stephen Lacey said...

Standing Stone, you're a great campaigner! Thank you for all the effort

Anonymous said...

A real shame there isnt a preservation plan for this site. Standing Stone, do you know if it is a listed site? Does that mean anything in practice? How many similar sites are found arond the country? Good post!

Anonymous said...

Are there other crosses in this style around? It looks more like a head stone to me.

Anonymous said...

The pattern on the Church looks like it has been altered and new windows and doors put in. This is a real gem. It is something that we would never know about but for the Standing Stone. God bless the work.