The Field Trip enjoyed on the Saturday of this year’s Annual Conference of the Group for the Study of Irish Historic Settlement, was led by Dr. Sharon Greene of the Castledermot Local History Group, who took us to the early Medieval ecclesiastical site at Killeen Cormac. This fascinating site is home to some very interesting grave markers and seven 5th – 6th century Ognam Stones.
We then proceeded to Moone to see the 10th century granite High Cross, the carving on which is delightfully readable. Starting with the Old Testament, the east face depicts The Fall, showing Adam and Eve beautifully framed by the apple tree with the snake slithering up the trunk. The panel beneath this shows Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac and beneath that the panel shows Daniel braving seven lions in their den.
Working clockwise, the south face depicts Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace which is topped by a four winged archangel. The panel below shows the return from Egypt. Following a dream in which he was warned to flee, Joseph leads the donkey carrying Mary and the infant Jesus. The panel beneath depicts the miracle of the loaves and fishes. The west face depicts the Crucifixion and shows Longinus who pierced the side of Jesus with his spear and Stephaton who offered Jesus a vinegar soaked sponge. Beneath this panel are the twelve apostles all of whom look quite individual.
The South face shows the Desert Fathers, Saints Paul and Anthony breaking bread in the desert and beneath that is shown the temptation of St Anthony the hermit with the devil depicted, as is traditional, by a long-bearded goat. The bottom panel depicts a multi-headed mythological beast.
The Moone High Cross is one of several in the region on which the themes of the Desert Fathers and the miracle of the Loaves and Fishes reoccur but the clarity of the carving on the Moone High Cross makes it very accessible and well worth a visit.