Monday, 25 April 2016

High Cross

The High Cross has stood at Down Cathedral, Downpatrick, County Down, for over a millenium.

An exact replica of the iconic Downpatrick High Cross, weighing about a ton, was installed on the 16th April, 2014, in front of the Cathedral.

The original Mourne granite cross, carved ca AD 900 as a "prayer in stone", is of historical, cultural and religious significance.

Its first location is believed to have been the early medieval monastery on the Hill of Down.

Following the Reformation, the High Cross was taken down and was used as Downpatrick's market cross.

It was damaged in a busy town centre location before being dismantled and its parts dispersed around the town.


In the 1890s, the parts were gathered together by Francis Joseph Bigger and reconstructed outside Down Cathedral, with the help of subscriptions from donors.

The old cross was removed in December, 2013, to be preserved as the centrepiece of a display in Down County Museum. 

The 2014 replica was made by County Down stonemasons, using computer technology to make an exact copy of the original. The granite used was blasted from Thomas Mountain in the Mourne mountains.

The head of the cross shows the Crucifixion of Christ, flanked by the spear-bearer, sponge-bearer and the two thieves, who were given their own names in Irish in the 8th century.

The interlace on the side is made up of intertwined snakes, symbols of resurrection as they slough their skin and are reborn.

First published in April, 2014.

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