From Stone to Pewter
We create a wonderful Pewter High Cross here at Mullingar Pewter which is a replica of the world famous Durrow Cross. Our Manager, and founder, and our resident blogger, Peter Collins, relates his reason to create this beautiful cross below:
‘I recently went to visit my Grandmothers grave in Durrow in Co. Offaly. My mother who is now in her 94th year wished to show me where its location. As she is getting older and as she put it herself she ‘’might be seeing Grandmother someday soon and wanted to be sure (I) could I could maintain it.’’
Nearby the famous Cross of Durrow is located and we decided to continue on for a visit. The site was the original site of St. Columba’s monastic settlement, now long since gone. A magnificent high cross, The Durrow Cross, now stands in the old church in Durrow for protection from the elements. The monastic settlement was founded about 550 A.D. but it was many years later before the Cross was carved. This 8th century cross has the most ornate designs on all four sides. There are many biblical stories told through the carvings on the cross. The flight of the Israelites from Egypt, Cain and Able, the story of Adam and Eve and the crucifixion of Jesus are all carved in great detail.
I was so taken by the cross and its great detail that there and then it was decided that we, at Mullingar Pewter, should do a replica cross that could sit in any household as an ornament. I took all the drawings I could of the different sides of the cross and did some research on the cross itself. I was curious as to why the cross was not finished on the base and the lower side of the post. It appeared to be written on in Latin what the stone carver had intended to carve both here and on the main base. At the time when this cross was being made the Vikings were carrying out many raids throughout Ireland in search of Gold, Silver and any fine materials. The monastic settlements like Durrow were ideal targets with works of art like the Book of Durrow Manuscript, now housed in Trinity College Dublin. It is widely believed that the team of stone carvers were slain before they could finish the Cross and so it stands to this day, incomplete.
There are many similarities between the Durrow High Cross, The Cross of the Scriptures which sits at Clonmacnoise, and the High Cross of Muiredach in Monisterboice. All three crosses date back to the 8th and 9th century, and, while it cannot be said with certainty, it appears that the three crosses were carved by the same team of Monks or stone carvers.
On my return to the workshop, the creative team sat and discussed the crosses. It was decided that we should make a replica of each cross and so we have recreated each cross in every detail. Our replica’s all stand about 7 inches tall or 16 cm. The original crosses all stand about 12 Feet tall or 3.6m, so a scaled down replica.
If you ever travel the midlands of Ireland and have an interest in Irish history, a visit to Durrow should be on your itinerary. You will find the Church and graveyard of Durrow on the road between Kilbeggan and Tullamore.
This was the journey from Stone to Pewter with our High Crosses Collection.’