The High Crosses of Kells, County Meath, are fascinating symbols of the historic Boyne Valley and part of one of Ireland’s greatest monastic settlements. Four high crosses with fine historical details survive to this day in the town.
The town of Kells in County Meath is one of the highlights of any tour of Ireland’s historic Boyne Valley. Boasting great religious significance, Kells Monastery originally included four high crosses built in the 9th century by the monks of St Colmcille’s of Iona, Scotland in 804. The famous Book of Kells was completed at the monastery, which also features a round tower.
The 9th century sandstone Market Cross, known as the “Cross of the Gate”, was originally located at the Eastern Gate of the monastery and currently stands outside the old Kells Courthouse. Its carvings signified that a fugitive could claim sanctuary once inside the boundary of the monastic area. The West Cross or the Broken Cross stands 3.5 meters high; while only the shaft remains, the cross is adorned with carvings on all four sides.
The South Cross, or the Cross of St Patrick and St Columba is closest to the roundtower and thought to be the earliest of the Kells crosses. Standing 3.3 meters high, it is carved from a single block of sandstone. The Unfinished Cross, towers approximately 4.75 meters high over the surrounding graveyard on the south side of the present day church.
Visit Kells in County Meath to examine the rich details of these monuments to the glorious monastic age of Ireland.