White Island Church and Figures

A small ruined church dating from around 1200 lies within the large earthwork enclosure of a pre-Norman church. Nothing is known of the early history of the establishment, and even its early name is forgotten, but one early grave slab is exhibited at the site and another has been reported.

The main feature of the church is its late Romanesque south door, reconstructed from a ruined state in 1928. The stone figures set up against the north wall at a much later date, pre-date the church, and may belong to an earlier church. Depressions cut into the tops of the heads of the figures may have been used to secure or support a timber structure. There has been much discussion of the symbolism of the figures. They include a cleric with a bell and crosier and there is no doubt that they are Christian in significance, not pagan. A 9th- or 10th-century date seems likely.

Source and image credit: Communities NI