LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.5

Help for OLD-IRISH-L Archives


OLD-IRISH-L Archives

OLD-IRISH-L Archives


OLD-IRISH-L@LISTSERV.HEANET.IE


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

OLD-IRISH-L Home

OLD-IRISH-L Home

OLD-IRISH-L  February 2012

OLD-IRISH-L February 2012

Subject:

Re: Dating early medieval Irish churches and sheela na gigs

From:

Richard Marsh <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scholars and students of Old Irish <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 15:29:32 -0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (143 lines)

Helen said:
"... there's no
suggestion of anything like a sheela-na-gig on an Irish high cross that
I'm aware of."

Next to the 19th-century deconsecrated Protestant church (now the visitors 
centre) on the Hill of Tara are two standing stones called Bloc and Bluigne, 
said to mark the graves of two druids. They are probably the stones the 
would-be high king had to drive his chariot between as a test. One is squat, 
the other is about a metre tall. This one has been described by Anthony 
Weir, Early Ireland: a Field Guide, as "a small phallic pillar ... [called] 
'St Adamhnán's Pillar' on which is a very worn figure in high relief, of 
uncertain date and significance." It's also called St Adamnan's Cross and is 
believed to be the shaft of a broken high cross. The official tour guide at 
Tara for many years said the "worn figure" was the horned god Cernunnos --  
"You can see his antlers here, and his knee is bent because he's dancing." 
It would be the only depiction of Cernunnos, a Continental Celtic god, in 
Ireland.

As a postcard photo lighted from the side and throwing the carving into 
relief clearly shows, it is a sheela-na-gig. A few years ago the guides 
started admitting it was a sheela. One young female guide even explained 
that women "used to" touch the vulva for "luck" if they were having trouble 
conceiving. I mischievously asked her if she had ever touched it. She leapt 
back in alarm and said, "Oh, God, no!"

Richard Marsh
Dublin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Helen McKay" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, February 10, 2012 9:09 AM
Subject: Re: [OLD-IRISH-L] Dating early medieval Irish churches and sheela 
na gigs


Hi Niamh, welcome to the list.

Not sure but may have given you a bumsteer somewhere there.  The
Picts supposedly didnt build stone churches either until after 720 or so,
when they asked the Northumbrians if they could build them like they
did.  But, that doesnt mean the Picts didnt have carved stones way
before then, the symbol stones start to appear around 300 AD, and I
personally believe that the CII stones (with a long-stemmed cross on a
slab) are from the era of the Celtic Xian church, which ended at the
same time that the Northumbrian church (with its then considerably
growing wealth and power - a much better model hey! ) was invited in
and the Irish familia booted out.  Now other people like to hold that the
CII stones come from a much later period and were copied from the
Northumbrians too, but that is untenable for many reasons of which I
wont go into here, just to say that dating is problematic and not agreed
to.
But regardless, it is early.  So if these Pictish instances are early 
sheela-
na-gigs, then they would have been at least taken back to Ireland (if
not already there) in the mid 700s (along with a whole load of other
stuff, like Pictish centaurs), and eventually would have found their way
onto both wooden carvings and stone carvings - although there's no
suggestion of anything like a sheela-na-gig on an Irish high cross that
I'm aware of.
I just dont like coincidence.  And if there are suggestions of a Pictish
instance of a sheela-na-gig, it finally does give us a source for the
tradition.  (meaning shared Celtic I would think...?)
Helen

On Thu, 9 Feb 2012 11:47:50 +0000, Niamh Whitfield
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>This is, I think, my first posting to this list which I have been
>enjoying as a lurker from an archaeological and art historical
>background, with an interest in Celtic Studies - although I made an
>appearance here this week courtesy of David Stifter ( a good idea, by
>the way, to spread my enquiry about evil eyes further, so thanks
David).
>
>In response to Helen's interesting posting from Australia  about
>sheela-na-gigs, I am afraid that the dating of  the Irish church in
>question AD 550-700 is unlikely to be correct , because if it
>incorporates a piece of sculpture it is  presumably built of stone.
>It was once common to date early Medieval Irish  stone churches this
>early. But recent research indicates that the earliest churches in
>Ireland were made of wood, wattle or sods, and that stone churches
are
>a relatively late development. Corbelled dry-stone churches, like
>those on Illaunloughan Skellig Michael and Gallarus (the ones shaped
a
>bit like boats turned upside down) seem, on the basis of radio carbon
>dates at excavated sites, to be no earlier than AD 800.  While
>mortared stone churches only seem to have been built after
>approximately AD 900. Those who wish to know more about all this
>consult the wonderful new book by Tomás Ó Carragáin (of UCC),
>Churches in Early Medieval Ireland  (Yale University Press, New Haven
>& London 2010).
>
>Again there are pretty sound art-historical reasons for dating the
>development of the Sheela-na-gigs to the Romanesque period, ie the
>11th to 12th  century AD, as noted in the article by Shae Clancy to
>which we were given a link yesterday. The general view, which I
>personally think must be correct, is that these are best seen in a
>contemporary European context rather than an archaic Iron Age (ie
>'Celtic') or indeed Pictish one.
>
>We are all involved in fast moving fields and it is very hard to keep
>abreast of developments in other disciplines, which is one reason why
>interdisciplinary conferences, like the Irish Medievalists ones, are
>helpful.
>
>
>Niamh
>
>Niamh Whitfield
>
>On 9 Feb 2012, at 09:22, Helen McKay wrote:
>
>> I have just seen a beautiful 'sheela-na-gig' up here at the top end of
>> Australia (I'm currently staying with my son in Darwin).  So the
>> general
>> idea seems a pretty widespread one...
>>
>> However, what is interesting is that there appears to be two
instances
>> of what looks suspiciously like a sheela-na-gig - on pictish stones
>> (which as per normal are completely ignored in any sort of
>> discussion).
>> Unfortunately I dont have my big books with me here so I cant right
>> now send on the details.  The dating is probably of the Irish Celtic
>> Xian
>> church, possibly 550-700.  And the two pictures appear to be 'angels'
>> with wings, squatting on the cross-beam of the cross.
>> Of course, it 'could' be a coincidence - but why make an angel squat
>> like
>> that?  seems right wierd.  So, would it be off the planet to suggest
>> that
>> the sheela-na-gig is some sort of fusion between a pagan goddess
and
>> the idea of a guardian angel?  (yes yes I know, guardian angels
these
>> days dont go around doing this sort of thing, but ... the Irish are so
>> fond of them, the only really good comfort that catholicism gave us
>> when we were growing up :-)
>> Helen 

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

April 2019
March 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
February 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
December 1998
November 1998
October 1998
September 1998
August 1998
July 1998
June 1998
May 1998
April 1998
March 1998
February 1998
January 1998
December 1997
November 1997
October 1997

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



LISTSERV.HEANET.IE

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager