Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Copper alloy shrine containing an iron bell associated with St. Cuileáin (see record 1854,0714.6.A). The shrine is incomplete, comprising two side plates and a cast base and crest.

    The base is cast from copper alloy, rectangular in form and undecorated. The corners and bottom edge of the bases are moulded. The base has four feet, two of which are moulded into a shape resembling stylised animal heads, the other two being smaller and plain. One of the short sides of the base is repaired with a tab-like copper alloy plate riveted into position.

    The two side plates are attached to one broad face and one narrow face of the bell. Each one is made from a sheet of copper alloy. The broader plate is decorated with an incised a cross motif within an outer border. It has nine visible rivet-holes spaced along its edges, six of which retain rivets; a tenth rivet-hole may have been lost where one of the lower corners is broken off. Solder traces are visible in place. The narrower plate is fixed by two copper alloy rivets in the centre but appears to be in a misaligned position relative to the base and crest, and may have been reattached at some point. It is undecorated.

    The crest is cast-in-one, hollow and openwork in design, decorated elaborately with inlaid silver, copper, enamel and niello. The lower part of the crest encloses the upper part of the bell. It has lozenge-shaped openings in the centre of each long side, arrow-like openings at each corner and semi-circular openings at each short side. The corners are decorated with animal heads, each with almond-shaped eyes, prominent eyebrows and spiral nostrils from which extend whisker-like strands. Each side is filled with panels of vegetal and animal interlace. The upper part of the crest is curved with a circular opening in the centre at the top, a pair of arched openings beneath and lunate openings to either side. Each end of the crest comprises a large, relief animal head with similar features to those on the corners of the lower part of the crest. A frontal human mask appears between the animal's eyebrows. There are further lunate openings above each head. The surface of the crest is decorated with further interlace ornament and enamel settings. The decorative panels across the crest are largely outlined with a herringbone border of silver and copper wire.


  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 11thC(late)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 30 centimetres
    • Width: 24 centimetres
    • Depth: 9.4 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Niello analysed, cf.

    W. A. Oddy, M. Bimson and S. La Niece , The Composition of Niello Decoration on Gold, Silver and Bronze in the Antique and Mediaeval Periods. In: Studies in Conservation, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Feb., 1983), pp. 29-35.Murray, G., 2016. The Bearnán Chúláin bell-shrine from Glenkeen, Co. Tipperary: an archaeological and historical analysis. Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society 121, 19-27


  • Bibliography

    • Marzinzik 2013 142 bibliographic details
    • Bagnoli, Klein, Mann & Robinson 2011 57 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G41/dc16/sB

  • Exhibition history


    2015-2016 24 Sep-31 Jan, London, BM, G30, 'Celts: Art and Identity'
    2011 23 June-9 Oct, London, BM, 'Treasures of Heaven'
    2011 13 Feb-8 May, Baltimore, Walters Museum of Art,'Treasures of Heaven'
    2010-2011 17 Oct-6 Jan, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, 'Treasures of Heaven'
    1992 26 Dec-1993 14 Mar, Denmark, Copenhagen, Nationalmuseet, Vikings and Christians
    1992 1 Sep-15 Nov, Germany, Berlin, Altes Museum, Wikinger, Waräger, Normannen. Die Skandinavier und Europa 800-1200
    1992 1 Apr-20 Jul, France, Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Les Vikings... Les Scandinaves et l’Europe 800-1200
    1980 4 Oct-1981 4 Jan, USA, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Vikings
    1980 19 Feb-20 July, London, BM, The Vikings

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: St Cuileßin's bell shrine


COMPASS Title: St Cuileßin's bell shrine

Image description



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Object reference number: MCS11638

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