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Bronze shrine figure


Height: 18.000 cm
Width: 4.300 cm

M&ME 1868,7-9,52

Britain, Europe and Prehistory

    Bronze shrine figure

    Irish, early 12th century AD
    From Dublin, Ireland

    Said to have been found on the site of the monastery of St John

    Similar figures to this can be seen mounted on the twelfth-century shrine of St Manachan kept in Boher Catholic Church, near Clara, County Offaly. It is likely that this figure had the same purpose and was attached to a shrine by rivets through the holes piercing its breast and feet.

    The bearded figure has been cast in bronze and depicts either an apostle or a saint. He is dressed in a bishop's robes, which are decorated with fine scrolled spirals, and geometric patterns. The arms project from the slender body and the hands hold a holy pose with the index finger and thumb touching.

    Although the decorative detail on this figure is essentially Irish, the form of the figure shows the influence of Romanesque art from continental Europe. It reflects a period of contact overseas and local reform in the church in Ireland, when a regular pattern of bishoprics was established.

    F. Henry, Irish art in the Romanesque pe (London, Methuen, 1970)

    R. Ó Floinn, Irish shrines and reliquaries (National Museum of Ireland, Dublin, 1994)

    C. Bourke, 'Three twelfth-century appliqué figures' in Keimelia (Galway University Press, 1988), pp. 112-26


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