Eglish Crosses

The name Eglish, from the Irish An Eaglais, ‘the church’, usually indicates a medieval parish church site, but here the crosses point to earlier ecclesistical use of the hilltop. The ruined structure nearby, not in State Care, is what is left of a 1720 church, replaced by the present Drumsallan Church of Ireland church in 1821–1822.

The North Cross has an ancient base and head but the shaft is new and the head is repaired. For many years the head was set directly in the base, but after it was knocked over and damaged in the 1970s the crosses were placed in State Care in 1989 and this cross was repaired.

The head has an unpierced ring and decoration in a circular frame at the crossing on both faces: bossed spirals to the south and fine all-over interlace to the north.  The South Cross is part only of a head of the same form, but there is evidence that it originally had a finial. On each face is a deep hollow at or near the crossing, but this is probably not original decoration.

This fragment was mounted on a stone plinth for its future safety. These two crosses share features with others in the Blackwater valley area and probably date from the late 9th or 10th century. Although battered and incomplete, they are reminders of what must have been an important early church here.

Source credit: Communities NI