"Monasterboice" Newtown Monasterboice by Mauzl

Newtown Monasterboice Travel Guide: 6 reviews and 12 photos

Highcross & Round Tower

One of the most treasured landmarks of Louth are the ancient monastic ruins and Round Tower of Monasterboice. Located 5 miles north of Drogheda, just off the M1 motorway, this ecclesiastical site was founded in the 6th century by St. Buite Mac Bronaigh. The extravagantly carved Muiredach's Cross is possibly the best example of a High Cross in Ireland. The surrounding burial ground possesses a timelessness all of its own.

The site has no less than three sculptured high crosses. Named after a former abbot, the extravagantly carved Muirdeach's Cross is possibly the best example of its kind in Ireland. Scenes from both the Old & the new Testament are deatailed on both sides of the beautifully decorated cross.

Detail of the crucifixion

A young beardless Christ occupies the centre. As is typical in medieval and Irish depictions, He is the Christus Triumphans type--alive and without suffering. Above his arms are two angels. Above and below the scene are spiral bosses and intertwined animals. Two soldiers stand symmetrically on each side of Christ, one the spear bearer who pierces His left side while the other holds a cane with a cup, perhaps a substitute for the sponge bearer. Between the soldiers and Christ's knees are two heads, perhaps indicating the two thieves.

The bird under Christ's feet may represent the phoenix, a common symbol for the resurrection. Between the spiral bosses and the two soldiers are two small figures, the one on the left (Christ's right--his "good" side) seated frontally, the one on the right (Christ's left and "bad" side) with its back turned. These probably are personifications of the sun and moon, regular features of medieval crucifixions. Adopted from pagan imagery, they came to prefigure the relationship of the New and Old Testaments since the Old Testament (the moon) was only to be understood by the light of the New (the sun).

  • Last visit to Newtown Monasterboice: Nov 2002
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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“God bless you ! Go mbeannaidh Dia duit ! Gott segne Dich!”

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