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We visit Ireland to find most of our items, where our sources range from cottage crafters to brand name suppliers such as Belleek and Waterford. Also many of our Irish and Celtic themed items come from Scotland, Wales, England, Continental Europe, the United States and imported from Asia.


Home Page > Celtic Crosses

 

Celtic Crosses & Book of Kells Gifts



Celtic Crosses dot the Irish countryside, as well as parts of Scotland and other homes of the early Celtic Church. Celtic Crosses can be characterized by their massive size, some reaching twelve to fifteen feet high, and featuring a ring around the intersection of the cross. The ring, a symbol of eternity, is thought to blend the pre-Christian Celtic traditions with the concepts taught through Christianity. Creation of the earliest crosses dates back to about the 8th Century, though it is believed that some were created as late as the 12th Century. Though none survive, scholars speculate that the precursors of the stone Celtic Crosses were made from wood. Later, the crosses were carved from sandstone or granite. But wood or stone, Celtic Crosses, specifically Celtic High Crosses, represented the largest freestanding sculptures between what was once the Roman Empire and the Italian city-states during the Renaissance.

The purpose of the Celtic Crosses is not completely clear, but it is known that many were built near monasteries, either to mark the boundaries of the monastic lands or to serve as a devotional function. In addition, some believe that others commemorated a miraculous event. Many crosses vary in their state of preservation, but the High Cross at the Monasterboice Monastery is among the best preserved.

The artwork carved into Celtic Crosses is typically narrative, many times portraying the lives of saints or other Bible stories, as these crosses were sometimes used to educate communities that were either illiterate, or did not have access to the written word. Other crosses are adorn with abstract ornament or interlaced designs. It is also thought that weathering has taken its toll on the appearances of these unique landmarks, deteriorating away paint that highlighted the figures and ornaments of the Celtic Crosses. It stands to reason that the colors used to paint the crosses were reflective of manuscripts of the times. Colors such as those used in the Book of Kells, yellow, green, blue and deep red.

The Book of Kells is a religious manuscript now found at Trinity College of Dublin, and is singularly the most important work the university library holds. Created in approximately the 6th Century (perhaps by St. Columba), it contains the four gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, a list of Hebrew names and the Eusebian cannons. But it is more renown for its resplendent artwork that took a team of artists an estimated thirty years to finish. The art was meticulously done by hand, and no one symbol was duplicated elsewhere within the book. The art was created on leaves of calfskin pages and the most intricate and colorful open each of the four gospels and depict events in the life of Christ.

Regrettably, the Book of Kells has been severely damaged over the centuries. In 1007, the book was stolen from its home at the time, the Kells Monastery, County Meath, and its golden cover (which was likely encrusted with gemstones) was never recovered. In addition, the Book of Kells has endured water damage to the first and last few pages. It is estimated that approximately 30 pages have been lost.

Clearly, the creation of Celtic Crosses and the Book of Kells were important cultural events in Irish history. ShopIrish.com (by Creative Irish Gifts) has the most fitting gifts for those who appreciate intricate Irish art. And your gift purchase today will not only enchant your recipient, but will financially support the Irish Children's Fund, Inc., the reason above all others Creative Irish Gifts is here to serve you. So please bookmark ShopIrish.com, and keep us in mind for:

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If it's Celtic Crosses or Book of Kells items you seek, search no longer. You've found the right place - ShopIrish.com by Creative Irish Gifts - the place for great Irish gift ideas!