This is the famous 9th century ‘Market Cross’ of Kells that now stands outside Kells Courthouse. It was originally called the “Cross of the Gate” as it was located at the eastern side of the monastery and marked the point where a fugitive could claim sanctuary inside the boundary of the monastic area. It’s beautiful carvings depict the Fall of Man, the Sacrifice of Isaac, the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, and the Crucifixion. The unknown sculptor was probably responsible for the Cross of the Scriptures in Clonmacnois, Durrow High Cross and Muiredach’s Cross in Monasterboice. Kells is believed to be one of the oldest continuously settled towns in Ireland and has produced many rich historical artifacts from all periods including the world famous Book of Kells. The monastery was established in c.804 a.d. as a refuge from Vikings for the monastic community of Iona. It was however raided on numerous occasions between the 10th and 12th centuries. The damage to the cross is attributed to the army of Oliver Cromwell during the 1650’s. Local belief has it that the cross was also used for hanging Croppies after the 1798 rebellion.

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