Southern Pictland

Aberlemno Forfarshire.

Inchbrayock (now at Montrose) . ,,

St. Madoes Perthshire.

DALRIADIC SCOTLAND Ardchattan ... . Argyllshire.

Shetland. Caithness. Sutherland. »i

Elginshire, j j



Hiberno Saxon Crozier


John Patrick iy Ktiinbur^h, photo.


John Patrick iy Ktiinbur^h, photo.

Primitive Scandinavian Art

iront F.ack

Cross at Prnmon, Anglesey Lïrawn by Haï nd Huches Scaie ,V linear

The erect cross-slabs of the Isle of Man show a mixture of Celtic and Scandinavian art, but there are a few which appear to be purely Celtic, as, for instance, those at Kirk Bride1 and Mai Lumkur., Michael.2

The erect free-standing cross seems to have been evolved from the erect cross-slab by removing one part of the background of the cross after another, until at last nothing but the cross itself was left. We see the first stage in the Papil stone from Shetland, now in the Edinburgh Museum of Antiquities. Here the tup of the slab is rounded to suit the curve of the circle, within which the head of the cross is enclosed. The wheel-cross comes next, in which the portion of the background of the cross on each side of the shaft is dispensed with, as in the specimens at Margam5 and Llantwit Major,4 both in Glamorganshire. Then the ends of the arms of the cross are allowed to project beyond the circular ring, as at Pcrmon,5 Anglesey. Lastly, the portions of the background of the cross between the quadrants of the ring and the arms are pierced right through the slab, thus giving us the "four-hole" cross of Cornwall'3 and the typical High Cross of Ireland.7

We have used the term "wheel-cross" to describe the class of monuments with a round head and a shaft of less width than the diameter of the head rather because it is convenient than on account of its

1 P. M. C. Kermode's Manx Crosses (1Q07), pi. xlvii.

5 Prof. J. O. West wood's Lapidarium Walii^e, pi. 1 g.

6 A. G. Langdon's Old Cornish Crosses,

7 II. O'Xeill's Ancient Crosses of Ireland,

Great Wheel-Cross of Conbelin at Margam Abbey, Glamorganshire Drawn by Wortbington G. Smith Scale linear priateness. Perhaps " d'sc-cross" would be more accurate, but • order to avoid confusion it may be as well to adhere to the term "wheel-cross," which has been adopted by previous writers on the subject.

The wheel-crosses are peculiar to Wales, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man, there being none either in Ireland or Scotland. The wheel-crosses of Wales and the Isle of Man have round heads of large diameter and very short shafts ; those of Cornwall have heads of much smaller diameter with a taller shaft. The best examples of wheel-crosses are at Margam and Llantwit Major, Glamorganshire; and at Kirk Braddan and Conchan, Isle of Man.1

The free-standing crosses, in which the outline of the stone corresponds with the outline of the cross, are the most highly developed type of Celtic sculptured monument of the Christian period, and are therefore presumably the latest, with the exception of those of the decadent period just before and after the Norman Conquest. The free-standing crosses show the influence of the architect rather than that of the monkish scribe who embellished the early Irish and Hiberno-Saxon illuminated MSS. The sculpture is less flat, and the mouldings round the panels of ornament are more elaborate than on the earlier erect cross-slabs.

The free-standing crosses also, instead of being monolithic, are constructed of two or more separate pieces of stone fixed together bj. means of mortice and tenon joints. In the larger of the High Crosses of Ireland the base forms one block, the shaft another, the head a third, and sometimes the top arm a fourth.

The High Crosses of Ireland are in most cases associated with a characteristic set of ecclesiastical 1 Kfrmode's Manx Crosses, pi. xxii., xxvii.

Front Back

Cross at Neuadd Sîarman, near Builth, Brecknockshire

Scale ^ linear structures consisting of a Round Tower and several small churches. This class of monument consequently belongs to the time when the artistic talents of the Celtic monks, which had been previously entirely absorbed in illuminating MSS., was directed into the. new channel of architecture. The High Cross of Muiredach1 at Monasterboice, Co. Louth, and that of King Fland'! at Clonmacnois, King's Co., are proved by the inscriptions upon them to have been erected during the first quarter of the tenth century. There is such a general family likeness between most of the High Crosses of Ireland that they are probably all of about the same date.

There is a peculiarity in the design of some of the High Crosses of Ireland which should not pass unnoticed, namely, the semicircular projection in each of the four hollows between the arms.3 In a store cross these projections have no use or meaning, but in the metal crosses of the same period projections of this kind serve to diguise the rivets by means of which the metal plates on each side of the cross are held together.4 From this it would appear that the art of the worker in metal to some extent influenced the sculptors by whom the stone crosses were made.

Some of the Cornish crosses have triangular projections in a similar position, giving an appearance not unlike the cusping in Gothic window tracery.

The free-standing crosses of Wales and Cornwall differ from those of Ireland in having heads of much

1 Petrie's Christian Inscriptions in the Irish Language, vol. ii., p. 66.

3 As on the crosses at Monasterboice, Co. Louth, and Durrow, King's Co.

4 As on the Cross of Cong in the Dublin Museum, and on the pectoral cross of St. Cuthbert in ihe Library of Durham Cathedral.

Cross at Nevern, Pembrokeshire Scale linear smaller diameter in proportion to the height of the shaft, and bases are the exception rather than the rule. In the Welsh and Cornish crosses figure sculpture is made altogether subordinate to ornament, whilst in the Irish crosses exactly the reverse is the case. The fronts and backs of the Irish crosses, and sometimes the sides also, are entirely covered with panels of symbolical figure subjects form'ng a cycle, which does not occur in the illuminated MSS., although evidently borrowed from a Byzantine source. The subordination of ornament to figure subjects on the Irish crosses shows that they are further removed from the MSS. than the Welsh, Cornish, and Scottish crosses, and therefore of iater date. The free-standing crosses of Scotland seem to belong to the Irish group.

The following list gives the best examples of freestanding crosses :—


Kells (three) Monasterboice (two; Termon Fechin Clonmacnois (two) Durrow Castle Dermot Moone Abbey Kilklispeen . Kilfenora


Co Meath. Co. Louth. Co. Louth. King's Co. King's Co. Co. Kildare. Co. Kildare. Co. Kilkenny. Co. Clare. Co. Sligo.






Argyllshire. I slay.

Renfrewshire. Perthshire.


Penmon . Maen Achyfan Neuadd Siarmun Llanbadarn Fawr Llautvvit Major Margam Carevv Nevein Penally







The shafts of the erect free-standing crosses which have just been described are rectangular in section, but there are a few exceptional monuments with shafts of square section or of round section, or partly of square and partly of round section. As an instance of a cross of square section we have the one at Llandough, Glamorganshire. At I.lantwit Major, in the same county, s a cylindrical pillar with a vertical groove down one side of it, the use of which has caused much futile speculation amongst antiquaries. The pillar of Eliseg at Valle Cruris, Denbighshire, is round at the bottom and square at the top, thus corresponding in shape to a well-known type of monument which is common in Mercia. These round pilla? crosses usually occur n pairs.

There are a few unique monuments that cannot be classed with any of those already described, such as the ornamented stone coffin at Govan, Renfrewshire, and the altar tomb at St. Andrews, Fifeshire.

Descriptions and illustrations of nearly all the monuments mentioned will be found in Dr. J. Stuart's Sculptured Stones of Scotland (published by the Spalding Club of Aberdeen) ; Dr. J. Anderson and J. R. Allen's Early Christian Monuments of Scotland o

(published by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland); R. C. Graham's Carved Stones of Islay; II. O'Neill's Sculptured Crosses of Ancient Ireland; Dr. Petrie's Christian Inscriptions in the Irish luwgaage (published by the R. Soc. Ant. of Ireland); Miss M. Stokes' Early Christian Art in Ireland; Prof. J. O. West-wood's Lapidarium Wall ice; A. G. Langdon's Old Cornish Crosses; and P. M. C. Kermode's Manx Crosses (1907).

The Celtic metalwork of the Christian period may be arranged under the following heads :—




Processional crosses. Bell shrines.

Book shrines. Relic shrines. Plaques for book-covers. Penannular brooches. Hammer-headed pins.1

With a few exceptions, all the existing specimens are now preserved in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy, the National Museum of Antiquaries of Scotland, and the British Museum.

Ecclesiastical bells are of two different kinds, namely, (1) portable bells, sufficiently light to be carried in the hand ; and (2) fixed bells, whose weight renders a trussed framework of wood necessary for their support. Each kind of bell can be rung in two separate ways, namely, (1) by holding the bell stationary and striking it on the outside with a hammer; or (2) by providing the bell with a tongue, or clapper, suspended from the inside and swinging the bell backwards and forwards, so as to cause the clapper to strike against the interior and thus produce sound. The method of bell-ringing by means of a hammer is frequently illustrated in the

1 To this list spoons ought probably to be added. See p. r iq.

illuminated psalters of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and is also to be seen on the sculptured capitals in the Abbey of St. George's de Boscherville,1 in Normandy. The great bells of the Kreml:n at Moscow, and in other Greek churches throughout Russia, are rung in this fashion. Portable bells with clappers have a handle at the top, by which they can be swung backwards and forwards in the hand, In the manner depicted upon the Baveux Tapestry.2 Fixed bells with clappers have loops at the top for suspension by iron bands to a horizontal wooden axle or rocking bar working in bearings supported on a trussed framework of timber, usually within a masonry tower. The required rocking motion is given by a lever and rope or a grooved wheel and rope.

The bells used in the Celtic Church seem to have belonged exclusively to the class of portable bells rung by hand. During the earlier period of Christianity in Ireland, when the monks lived together in small isolated Communities, bells which were intended to carry sound to a great distance would be unnecessary, so that the absence of belfries <n connection with the primitive drf-built stone oratories of the sixth and seventh centuries s easily explained. When, however, at a later period, the congregations became larger and more widely scattered, the lofty tower served a useful purpose in greatly 'ncreasing the area over which the sound of the bell could be heard.

The commencement of the building of belfries in Ireland coincides with the introduction of Lombardo-Byzaniine architecture into that country, and the Irish round tower is obviously nothing more than a local

1 Didron's Annules Archéologiques, vol. vi., p. 315.

variety of the Italian campanile. The Viking invasions at the same time gave an additional impetus to the erection of structures which could be used not only for ecclesiatical purposes, but also as watch-towers to detect the approach of the enemy, as bell-towers to alarm the neighbourhood, and as towers of defence to secure the lives and property of the congregation. The fact that the Irish round towers are called by the name of cioiccihec, or bell house, in the ancient annals is sufficient proof they were used as belfries, but it does not appear to be known whether the bells were rung by swinging in the hand or fixed to a framework and swung on pivots. At any rate, no Irish bells of this period (a.d. Koo to 10001 have survived except the portable hand-bells. If any mechanical appliance was employed for bell-ringing in the Irish round towers it was probably constructed by fixing an ordinary handbell to a horizontal axle-bar of wood or iron, working in two bearings, and swung backwards and forwards by means of a rocking lever with a rope attached to it, as is done in many village churches at the present day. The large, heavy metal bells made specially with a view to being fixed in a tower and rung by a grooved wheel and cord belong to a much later period, after the Norman Conquest, when the art of making castings in bronze of great rize had been learnt.

The portable bell of the early Celtic Church is merely an ordinary cattle bell,1 such as would, no doubt, be common in Pagan 'irnes, adapted to ecclesiastical purposes and slightly modified to suit the requirements of the monks. It differs hardly at all, except as regards size, from the common sheep-bell

1 Probably the earliest representation of a cow-bell in Great Britain is on the pre-Norman cross at Fowlis Wester, near Critff, Perthshire.

still to be found in many parts of England. Dr. Joseph Anderson tersely sums up the peculiarities of the Celtic ecclesiastical bell, as regards its material, manufacture, form, and size, in his Scotland in Early Christian Times (first series\ p. 183, somewhat as follows :—

(1) Mali-rial—iron coated with Bronze.

(2) Manufacture—hammered and riveted; coaling of bronze put on by means of a process analogous to tinning.

(3) Form—tali, narrow, tapering, foursided ; ends flattened ; sides bulged.

(4) Sise—portable; provided with handle so as to be easily swung by hand.

The original home of ecclesiastical bells of this type was :n Ireland, where there are upwards of fifty in existence, and tnence they spread to Scotland, Wales, England, Brittany, France, ar.d Switzerland.

The largest iron bell of this kind is preserved in the Church of Birnie, near Elgin, N.B. It is 1 foot 2 inches high, and 7 inches by 5 inches at the bottom, tapering to 4! inches by 3 inches at. the top. It is riveted down each of the narrow sides with four rivets, and the handle is fixed to the top by four much smaller rivets. As a rule, however, the height of such bells rarely exceeds 1 foot or is less than 8 inches.

The Celtic ecclesiastical bell of wrought-iron was afterwards copied in cast bronze. It is reasonable to suppose that the bronze bells are of later date than those of iron (1) because the rectangular shape is useless and meaningless in the case of a bronze bell, and results from copying an iron bell, in which the rectangular shape s necessitated by its method of construction ; (:2) because the bronze bells are of more refined shape and better manufacture than those of iron ; and (3) because the bronze bells are in many cases ornamented.

Celtic ecclesiastical bells of cast bronze may be divided into the following classes:—

(1) Bronze bells without ornament.

(2) Bronze bells without ornament, but inscribed.

(3) Bronze be'ls with ornamented har.dles.

(4) Bronze bells with ornamented bodies.

Examples of Celtic quadrangular bells of cast bronze without ornament have been recorded at the following places:— Wales —

Llanrhyddlad, Anglesey (Archaologia Cambrensis, 4th ser., vol. ii., p. 275). Llangystenyn, Carnarvonshire ; now in the Powysland Museum at Welshpool (.Montgomeryshire Collections, vol. xxv., p. 3 27). Scotland—

Eilean Finan, Loch Shiel, Argyllshire (Dr. J. Anderson's

Scotland in Early Christian Times, 1st ser., p. 198). Insh, near Kingussie, Inverness-shire (Ibid., p. 195). Little Dunkeld, Perthshire (Proc. Soc. Ant. Scot., vol.

xxiii., p. 119). Forteviot, Perthshire (Ibid., vol. xxvi., p. 434).


Garton, Co. Donegal (Rev. II. T. Ellacomhe's Church

Bells of Devon—Supplement, p. 342). Lower Badony, Co. Tyrone (Ibid., p. 344). Scattery Island, Co. Clare ; now in the British Museum

(Ibid., p. 344). Kilbroney, Rostrevor, Co. Down (R. Welch, photo. No. 1,932 ; four. R. Soc. Ant. of Ireland, vol. xxx;;i., P- S5>-

Kilmainham (four. R. Sue. Ant. of Ireland, 5th ser., vol. x., p. 41).


Cappagh, Co. Tyione (/our. R. Sue. Ant. of Ireland, vol. xxxiii., p. 52).

Goulien, Firiistire (Ibid., 5th ser., vol. viii., p. 167).

As has already been painted out, the bells of cast bronze are copies in another material of the wrought-iron bells, the quadrangular form of which had its origin in the method of construction out of a thin sheet of metal with riveted joints being still adhered to 'n the bronze bell, where joints were not required. The only difference in the shape of the iron and the bronze bells is that the latter have in most cases a flange, or an expansion and thickening of the metal round the mouth. The handles vary from those which are almost rectangular to those which are quite round. The bell still preserved n the church at Insh, near Kingussie, Inverness-shire, may be taken as a fair sample of the Celtic quadrangular bell of cast bronze without ornament. It is 10 inches high, and measures 9 inches by 7! inches at the mouth. The handle is oval and the mouth expanded. The remaining bells of the same class vary from 4 inches to 11 inches in height, with their other dimensions in proportion.

There are three Celtic quadrangular bells of cast bronze without ornament, but inscribed, at the following places:—


Clogher, Co. Tyrone (II. T. Ellaoomb«'s Church Bells of Devon—Supplement, p. 36y).

Armagh ; now in the Museum of the R.I.A. at Dublin (M. ¡Stokes' Early Christian Art in Ireland, p. 65J.


Stival (Mémoires de l'Institut Impériale de France ; Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, vol. xxiv., pt. ii., p. 387).

The bell of Clogher is -'nscribed, in one horizontal iine, with capital letters—


The bell of Armagh is inscribed, in three horizontal lines, with Hiberno-Saxon minuscules—

►J* oroit ar chu rr.ascach m ailello

"S A prayer for Cumascach, son of AMI."

The bell of Stival is inscribed. :n one vertical line, with Carlovingian nrnuscules— pirt.ur ficifti " Pirtur made this" (?J.

Or, according to the Vicomte Hersart de la Villemarqué : pir turfic is ti

" Sweet-sounding art thou."

The Cumascach mentioned on the bell of Armagh was probably the steward of Armagh, who, according to the Annals of the Four Masters, died in a.d. 908, thus fixing the date of at least one of the bells of this class.

Celtic quadrangular bells of cast bronze with ornamented handles exist at the following places :—

Llangwynodl, Carnarvonshire ; now in the possession of W. C. Yale-Jones-Parry, Esq., of Madryn Castle, Pwllheli, Carnarvonshire (Archaologia Cambrensis, jft ser., vol. it., p. 167 ; and |ih ser., vol. ii., p. 274).


Stratlifillan (Bell of St. Fillan), Perthshire; now in the National Museum at Edinburgh (Dr. J. Anderson's Scotland hi Early Christian Times, istser., p. 186).


Lorrha (Bell of St. Ruadhan), Co. Tipperary , now in the British Museum (H. T. Ellacombe's Church Bells of Devon—Supplement, p. 344).

St. Pol de Leon (Bel) of St. Meriadec) (Rohault de Fleury's La Messe, vol. vi., pi. cnxvm.; Ellacombe, p. 383).

The ornament on the handles is of two k;nds— zoomorphic and phyllomorphie. The former consists of the head of a beast at each end of the loop handle where it joins the body of the bell, and the latter of a leaf ir the same position. The bell of Llangwynodl1 has a good typical example of a zoomorphic handle, and the bell of St. Pol de Leon is the only one with leaf terminations to the handle. The Llangwynodl bell :s 5 ' lches high, and measures 6\ inches by 4 inches across the mouth ; and the St. Pol de Leon bell is gl inches high, and measures 6j inches across the mouth. St. tillan's bell is 1 foot high, and St. Ruadhan's bell only 2 inches or 3 inches high-

Celtic quadrangular bells of cast bronze with ornamented bodies exist at the following places :—

Lough Lene Castle, Co. Westmeath; now in the Museum of the R.I.A. at Dublin; Bangor, Co. Down (Ulster Journal of Arclueology, vol. i., p. 179; Ellacombe, p. 340). Cashel; now at Adare Manor (Lady Dunraven's Memorials of Adare Manor, p. 152 ; Ellacombe, p. 340).

1 We are indebted to Mr. W. Corbet Vale-Jones Parry, of Madryn Castle, Pwllheli, the present owner of the Bell, for permission to reproduce the photograph, p. 210,

By the courtesy of Mr. George Coffey, m.r.i.a.J of the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy, we are able to i lustrate the bell from Lough Lene Castle.

It is i foot ij inches high, including the handle, and measures 8} inches by 71 inches across the mouth. The shape of the body of the bell resembles that of the iron quadrangular bells, but exhibits much greater refinement in the delicate and almost imperceptible curves of the sides. The handle is semicircular. The cross of the well-known Irish type, with a border of key pattern below, round the mouth of the bell, on one of the border faces; and a border of angular interlaced-work in a similar position on each of the narrower faces.

The bell of Bangor was found at the place of that name, in Co. Louth, and was subsequently in the possession of I)r. Stephenson, of Belfast. It now belongs to Colonel MacCance, of Knocknagoney House, Holywood, Co. Down.1 It is 1 foot inches high, and measures 9 inches by 8 inches across the mouth.

This bell is also ornamented with a cross and key patterns, like the one just described, the only difference being that the cross is not combined with a circular ring, and the design of the key pattern is not quite the same.

The bell of Cashel was found at the place of that name, :n Co. Tipperarv, in 1849, anil is now preserved at Lord Dunraven's house at Adare Manor, Co. Limerick. It resembles the bell of Bangor almost exactly, except that there are four round dots in the

1 Mr. R. Welch, of Belfast, tells me that it is kept in a lire-proof safe, ami that over ¿joo was refused for it.

Bell Maelbrigde


hollows between the aims uf the cross. The handle is broken off, and without this the bell is 1 foot high. Its dimensions across the mouth are gj inches by 61 inches.

These three bells are so nearly alike as regards their size, shape, and ornamentation that they are probably all the same date, and may even have been the work one artificer in metal. A peculiarity occurs ;n the key patterns on the bells from Lough Lene Castle and from Bangor which may perhaps help to fix the date. It will be noticed that the square spaces in the middle of the key patterns are filled in with an almond-shaped figure. This is also a feature of the key patterns in the Irish Gospels (Codex No. 51) at St. Gall, in Switzerland.1

There is ir> the British Museum a Celtic quadrangular bell of iron with an ornamental bronze cap fixed to the top of it, but it is not clear whether the cap forms part of the original design or was added subsequently. This bell is called the Bell of Conall Gael, and came from Inishkeel, in the Barony of Boylagh, Co. Donegal. It was enclosed within a metal shrine in the fifteenth century.

All the other Celtic ecclesiastical bells which have been enshrined are entirely of iron, a fact tending to show that the bronze bells are of later date than the iron ones, because the enshr.ned bells were those belonging as a general rule to the saint who founded the church. The bronze bells probably came into use long after most of the older churches had been founded.

1 R. Purton Cooper's Appendix A to Rjmer's Feederu, p. go and pi. 7 (St. Mark miniature), and pi. 10 (initial page of St. John's Gospel).

The following is a list of the extant bell-shrines :—


Shrine of the Bell of St. Patrick's Will ; now in the Museum of the R.I.A. at Dublin (H, O'Neill's Fine Arts of Ancient Ireland, p. 46').

Shrine of the Bell of St. Culan, called the Bamaan Cuilaun ; now in the British Museum (Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. xiv., p. 31).

Shrine of the Bell of St. Mogue.

Shrine of the Bel! of Maelbrigde (Miss M. Stokes' Early Christian Art in Ireland, p. 67).

Shrine of the Bell of St. Mura, Abbey of Fahan, Co. Donegal (Ulster Journal of Archaeology, vol. i , p. 274).

Shrine of the Bell of Conall Cael, from Inishkeel, Co. Donegal; now in British Museum (Ellacombe's Church Bells of Devon—Supplement, p. 365).

Shrine of the Bell of Clogh Oir, or Golden Bell, of Senanus, in Scattery Island, at the mouth of the Shannon (Miss M. Stokes, p 66).


Bell-shrine of Kilmichael Glassary, Argyllshire, dug up on Torrebhlaurn Farm in 1814 ; now in the National Museum at Edinburgh (Dr. J. Anderson's Scotland in Early Christian Times, 1st ser., p. 207).

Bell-shriue, preserved at Guthrie Castle, Forfarshire (Ibid., p. 209).

The bells of the Celtic Church, whether they be of iron or bronze, whether devoid of lettering or inscribed, ornamented or plain, possess a far higher interest than that attaching to ordinary museum specimens, because most of them have an authentic history, going back in some cases to the time when Christianity was first introduced into this country. The bell, the book, and the crozier which belonged to the Celtic saints who founded churches, were always looked upon


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