New Testament Images

Christian Scripture Images on the Irish High Crosses

In this article you will find information related to the Christian scripture or New Testament images on the Irish High Crosses.  The article includes, in order of appearance:  

An Introduction, 

Categories of Christian Scripture Images 

Distribution of Christian Scripture Images:  By Cross 

The Top Ten Christian Scripture Images 

Crosses with Christian Scripture Images: By Subject 

Crosses with Christian Scripture Images:  By Name of Cross

Introduction

The Irish High Crosses were the product of Christian communities in Ireland between the late 8th century and about 1200 C.E.  It is, therefore, to be expected that where figural scenes were employed by those who planned and carved these crosses, some of them would reflect the content of the Christian Scriptures, commonly known as the New Testament.  This is, in fact, the case.

Castledermot south Cross, County Kildare, Ireland

Of course, the original shape of each of the 235 crosses, identified by Peter Harbison, itself reflects content from the Christian scriptures.  The cross is the central symbol of the Christian faith.  In addition, 74 High Crosses, about 1 in 3, have been identified as containing one or more figural images related to the Christian scriptures.  Those are the crosses focused on here.  The information below is based exclusively on the work of Dr. Peter Harbison in his epic tome The High Crosses of Ireland. 

Harbison, Peter; The High Crosses of Ireland:  An Iconographical and Photographic Survey, Dr. Rudolf Habelt GMBH, Bonn, 1992.  Volume 1:  Text, Volume 2:  Photographic Survey; Volume 3:  Illustrations of Comparative Iconography.

It should be noted that the 235 crosses identified by Harbison include in-tact crosses, damaged or broken crosses and cross fragments.  We know that some crosses have been lost to time and destruction.  This means we have almost certainly lost some figural images, even on the crosses we still have.  Beside this there are images on some of the crosses that cannot even be guessed at due to deterioration.  Adding to the difficulty is that some scholars have made different identifications of some of the Christian scripture figural images than those made by Harbison.    Inferences can only be drawn form the crosses we have.  

 The Cross pictured above is the Castledermot South Cross in County Kildare.  It has 5 Christian scripture images.

Note:  Tentative conclusions are underlined in the text below.

Categories of Christian Scripture Images

There a total of 224 images related to the Christian scriptures that Harbison at least tentatively identifies as being found on the Irish High Crosses.  This is compared to 167 images related to the Hebrew scriptures.  (See previous essay.)  There are 74 different crosses with Christian scripture texts depicted and 47 crosses with images from the Hebrew scriptures.

Among the 74 crosses with Christian scripture texts there are 45 different subjects represented.  These images can be grouped into 5 categories as follows:

Early Life of Jesus:  There are 10 images related to the birth and childhood of Jesus, through about age 12.  One or another of these images appear 19 times, on 10 different crosses.  The images are:

  • Annunciation to Mary
  • Visitation to Elizabeth
  • Annunciation to the Shepherds
  • Wise Men with Herod
  • Adoration of the Magi
  • Virgin and Child
  • Massacre of the innocents
  • Flight into Egypt
  • Return from Egypt
  • Jesus before the Doctors

John the Baptist:  There are 6 images related to John the Baptist. One or another of these images appear 13 times, on 6 different crosses.  The images are:

  • John the Baptist:  Birth/Circumcision
  • John the Baptist Named
  • John the Baptist Presented in the Temple
  • John the Baptist Recognizes Jesus
  • Salome Dances for the head of John the Baptist
  • Beheading of John the Baptist

The cross to the right is the Camus Cross in County Derry.  It has 4 Christian scripture images.

Life and Ministry of Jesus:  There are 10 images that take Jesus from his baptism to the beginning of Holy Week.  One or another of these images appear 38 times, on 20 different crosses.  These images are:

  • Baptism of Jesus
  • Marriage Feast at Cana
  • Healing the Centurion’s Servant
  • Jesus Stills the Tempest
  • The Twelve Apostles
  • Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish
  • Jesus Walks on Water
  • Jesus Delivers Adulteress or Samaritan Woman at the Well
  • Raising Lazarus or Lame Man at Pool of Bethesda
  • Suffer the Little Children

Holy Week:  There are 12 images that take the Gospel story from the Entry to Jerusalem through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  One or another of the images for Holy Week, not counting the crucifixion scenes, appear 39 times on 13 different crosses.  By far the most common image is that of the Crucifixion.  It appears on 55 crosses.  It is the only Christian scripture image on 35 crosses.  Only 20 crosses contain a crucifixion scene and at least one more Christian scripture image.  These images are:

  • Entry into Jerusalem
  • Kiss of Judas
  • Peter Cuts off Ear of Servant
  • First Mocking or Flagellation of Jesus
  • Denial of Peter
  • Pilate Washes His Hands
  • Second Mocking of Jesus
  • Soldiers Cast Lots for Jesus’ Garments
  • The Crucifixion
  • Christ in the Tomb
  • The Resurrection
  • The Holy Women at the Tomb

Post-Resurrection Christ:  There are 7 images that depict the post-resurrection Christ.  One or another of these images appear 39 times on 21 different crosses.  The images are:

  • The Ascension
  • Raised Christ/Mission to the Apostles
  • Traditio Clavium
  • The Risen Christ
  • Second Coming of Christ
  • The Last Judgment
  • Majestas Domini/Christ in Glory

Non-cannonical scenes:  Harbison also includes 4 images that reflect texts outside the Christian canon.  The last 3 of these images appear on only one cross, the Duleek North Cross.  These images are:

  • Saint Michael Weighing Souls
  • Joachim and Anne Greeting one another at the Golden Gate
  • Joachim and Anne Fondling the infant Virgin
  • An Angel Bringing Bread to the Virgin in the Temple.

The Cross to the right is the Clones Cross in County Leitrim.  It has 4 Christian scripture images.  Photo from Harbison, 1992, vol. 2.

Note:  Joachim and Anne are, by tradition, the names of the parents of Mary the mother of Jesus.

Five of these 45 figural images may not appear at all as on each of the crosses on which the image has been identified the identification is questionable.  A (?) before the name of a cross in the index below indicates that the identification of this image is not clear.  These images are:

  • John the Baptist Presented in the Temple:  Boho and Drumcliff
  • John the Baptist Recognizes Jesus:  Durrow, Killamery, Kilree
  • The Beheading of John the Baptist:  Kilree
  • Jesus Stills the Tempest:  Kilnaruane
  • The Risen Christ:  Kilgobbin, Moone

Distribution of Christian Scripture Images

The 11 crosses with the largest number of Christian scripture images are:

  1. Monasterboice, Tall Cross                         14 images
  2. Monasterboice, Muiredach’s Cross           12 images
  3. Arboe Cross                                               12 images
  4. Durrow Cross                                             11 images
  5. Clonmacnoise, Cross of the Scriptures     10 images
  6. Drumcliff Cross                                          10 images
  7. Kells, Market Cross                                     9 images
  8. Armagh Cross                                             8 images
  9. Donaghmore Cross/Tyrone                         8 images
  10. Kells, Broken Cross                                     6 images
  11. Moone Cross                                               6 images

Note:  The vast majority of the images appear on 40 of the crosses, about 1 in 6 of the total number of crosses.

A more detailed assessment of the images on the top 11 crosses above follows.

What part of the Gospel story is emphasized by the images on the High Crosses?  Considering the 11 crosses that bear the largest number of Christian scripture images, it seems that Holy Week is by far the dominant theme with the Life and Ministry of Jesus and Post Resurrection images coming in a distant 2nd and 3rd.  These 11 crosses and a summary of their images are discussed below.

Tall Cross Monasterboice, County Louth, Ireland

The Monasterboice Tall Cross, in County Louth, contains 14 Christian scripture images. Only 4 of these are among the top 10 most frequently used images.  Two depict John the Baptist.  There is 1 image related to Jesus’ ministry: his baptism.  Eight images relate to Holy Week and 2 images are post resurrection in subject matter.  This cross omits images of the birth narratives of Jesus, and gives scant coverage of Jesus’ ministry.  The emphasis is on Holy Week and post Resurrection images.




The cross to the left is the Tall Cross at Monasterboice in County Louth.


Muiredach's Cross, Monasterboice, County Louth, Ireland

The Monasterboice Muiredach’s Cross, in County Louth, has 12 Christian scripture images.  Five of the top 10 most frequently used images appear on this cross.  There is 1 image from the early life of Jesus.  There are 6 images of Holy Week, including the resurrection, and 4 post resurrection images.  The emphasis, as above, is on Holy Week and post Resurrection images.




The cross to the right is Muiredach’s Cross at Monasterboice in County Louth. 

Scripture Cross, Clonmacnois, County Offaly, ireland

The Clonmacnois Scripture Cross, in County Offaly, contains 12 Christian scripture images.  Only 2 of the top 10 most commonly used images appear here.  There are 5 images related to Holy Week, 2 concerning the resurrection and 4 post resurrection images. The emphasis, as above, is on Holy Week and post Resurrection images. 





The cross to the left is the Scripture Cross at Clonmacnois in County Oflay.


The Durrow Cross, in County Offaly, has 11 Christian scripture images.  Only 2 of the top 10 most frequently used images are present here.  There are 2 images of John the Baptist, including one of John and Jesus meeting.  Six images relate to Holy Week and 3 depict post resurrection stories. The emphasis, as above, is on Holy Week and post Resurrection images.





The cross pictured to the right is the Durrow Cross in County Offaly. The photo is from Peter Harbison, 1992, Volume 2.


Drumcliff Cross, County Sligo, Ireland

The Drumcliff Cross, in County Sligo, has 10 Christian scripture images.  Three of the top 10 most frequently used images appear on this cross.  There are 2 panels related to John the Baptist, 2 related to the birth and early life of Jesus, 4 depicting the crucifixion and resurrection, and 2 picturing post resurrection events.  On this cross there is a balance between the beginning and end of Jesus’ life and ministry.  The content of his ministry before Holy Week is omitted.




The cross to the left is the Drumcliff Cross in County Sligo.  

Arboe Cross, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland


The Arboe Cross, in County Tyrone, has12 Christian scripture images.  This cross used more of the top 10 most frequently used images.  Seven of the 10 are depicted on this cross.  Its images differ from those of the 5 crosses discussed above.  There are 4 images that depict the early life of Jesus, 3 that reflect his ministry, 3 that relate to Holy Week, and 2 that picture post resurrection events.  This cross balances the birth, ministry, Holy Week and post resurrection events in the Gospels.





The cross to the right is the Arboe Cross in County Tyrone.

On the following 5 crosses, there is additional emphasis on Jesus’ ministry and Holy Week, similar to the Arboe Cross above.

The Armagh Cross, in County Armagh, has 8 Christian scripture images.  Five of these 8 images are among the top 10 images used on the crosses.  There are 3 images related to Jesus’ early life.  There are two images related to Jesus’ ministry, including his baptism and a miracle.  There is one Holy Week image, the Crucifixion and there are 2 post resurrection images.  While the number of images is limited, events from the beginning, middle, end and ongoing ministry of Jesus are depicted.




The cross to the left is the Armagh Cross in County Armagh.  The photo is from Peter Harbison, 1992, Volume 2.


Donaghmore Cross, County Tyrone, Ireland

The Donaghmore Cross in County Tyrone has 8 Christian scripture images.  Six of the top 10 most frequently depicted images appear on this cross.  Two of these images reflect the early life of Jesus.  Three images represent Jesus’ ministry.  Three images illustrate events of Holy Week.  this cross seems to balance the emphasis on the life of Jesus but omits Post Resurrection images.



The cross to the right is the Donaghmore/Tyrone cross in County Tyrone.

Broken Cross, Kells, County Meath, Ireland

The Kells Broken Cross, in County Meath, has 6 Christian scripture images.  There are 2 of the top 10 most frequently used images on this cross.  It contains 1 image from Jesus’ early life.  There are 3 images related to his ministry depicting three different aspects of it.  These include 2 miracles and Jesus interaction with either the Samaritan Woman or the Woman caught in Adultery.  There is one image related to Holy Week, the Entry into Jerusalem.  Of course this cross has been broken and the fragments lost.  It almost certainly contained an image of the Crucifixion and may have contained other Christian scripture images as well.  Given the images we have, this cross is focused on the life and ministry of Jesus.



The cross to the left is the Broken Cross at Kells in County Meath, 


Market Cross, Kells, County Meath, Ireland

The Kells Market Cross, in County Meath, contains 9 Christian scripture images.  Three of the top 10 most frequently used images appear here.  There are 3 images from the ministry of Jesus.  These include 1 healing, 1 miracle, and Jesus welcoming the children.  The other 6 images are all related to Holy Week.  The focus here is on Jesus’ ministry and Holy Week.





The cross pictured to the right is the Market Cross, Kells in County Meath. 


Moone Cross, County Kildare, Ireland

The Moone Cross, in County Kildare, has 6 Christian scripture images.  Three of these images are on the listing of the top 10 most frequently used images.  There is 1 image from Jesus’ early life.  There are 3 images related to Jesus’ ministry.  One image, the crucifixion, depicts Holy Week, and 1 image, the Risen Christ, references post Resurrection stories.





The cross pictured to the left is the Moone Cross in County Kildare.  



The Top Ten Images That appear on the High Crosses

The 10 most frequently depicted images from the Christian scriptures are:

  1. The Crucifixion                              54 crosses
  2. The Baptism of Jesus                   10 crosses
  3. The Last Judgment                       10 crosses
  4. Multiplication of Loaves and Fish  9 crosses
  5. Marriage Feast at Cana                7 crosses
  6. Second Mocking of Jesus             7 crosses
  7. Adoration of the Magi                    6 crosses
  8. The Twelve Apostles                     6 crosses
  9. First Mocking of Jesus                  6 crosses
  10. Mission to the Apostles                 6 crosses

The top ten most frequently depicted images (see above) represent each period of the Gospel story, with the exception of John the Baptist.  There is a preference here for the categories of Ministry of Jesus and Holy Week which is to be expected as the majority of the Gospels deal with these subjects.    

  • Early Life of Jesus                          1 of the top ten 
  • Ministry of Jesus                            4 of the top ten
  • Holy Week                                      3 of the top ten
  • Post resurrection events                 2 of the top ten

Images 2-10 (Top Ten Images above) are well distributed among 31 different crosses.  None of these images appear on more than 10 crosses.  Thus, apart from the crucifixion, none of the images appear with great frequency.  The Baptism of Jesus and the Last Judgment (2 and 3 above) appear on only 1 of 7 of the crosses bearing figural images from the Christian scriptures.  Based on all the evidence here and below, this suggests that those who planned and executed the crosses exercised a great deal of freedom and creativity in developing the iconographic program that would adorn each cross.

The 11 crosses that have the most Christian scripture images offer a clearer picture of the themes emphasized on the High Crosses.

  1. Early Life                 13 appearances on 7 crosses
  2. John the Baptist        6 appearances on 3 crosses
  3. Life and Ministry      19 appearances on 7 crosses
  4. Holy Week               41 appearances on 10 crosses
  5. Post Resurrection    20 appearances on 7 crosses

Thus, among the 11 crosses bearing the highest number of Christian scripture images, as noted above, Holy Week is clearly the dominate theme.  The Post Resurrection and Life and Ministry images are a distant 2nd and 3rd but both appear far more frequently than Early Life and John the Baptist images.  

Five of the top 11 have more Holy Week images than any other category and on 3 more Holy Week is tied for the most in any category.  In addition, Holy Week images appear on all the top 11 crosses while Early Life, Life and Ministry, and Post Resurrection scenes appear on 7 of 10.  On 1 cross, the Armagh, Jesus’ early life is weighted first and on 2 crosses, Kells Broken and Moone, Jesus’ ministry is weighted first.  It should be noted, however, that the Armagh and Kells Broken crosses are both missing their heads, where Holy Week and Post Resurrection scenes are most likely to be found.

The number of top ten most frequently used Christian scripture images on the 11 crosses with the most Christian scripture images above are:

  • Arboe                                      7 of the top 10 images
  • Armagh                                   5 of the top 10 images
  • Clonmacnois, Scripture          2 of the top 10 images
  • Donaghmore/Tyrone              6 of the top 10 images
  • Drumcliff                                 3 of the top 10 images
  • Durrow                                    2 of the top 10 images
  • Kells, Broken                          2 of the top 10 images
  • Kells, Market                          3 of the top 10 images
  • Monasterboice, Muiredach’s  5 of the top 10 images
  • Monasterboice, Tall                4 of the top 10 images
  • Moone                                    3 of the top 10 images

It is surprising that 3 crosses with the largest number of Christian scripture images have few of the top 10 images:  Clonmacnois Scripture Cross (2 of 12), the Durrow Cross (2 of 11) and the Kells Market Cross (3 of 9).  

On 3 others of the 11 crosses with the most Christian scripture images the majority of these images are in the top 10 images:  Arboe (7 of 12), Armagh (5 of 8) and Donaghmore/Tyrone (6 of 8).  

  Crosses with Christian Scripture Images:  By Subject

Below these figural images are catalogued according to the identification of the 45 figural images.  Additional information here includes the text(s) they seem to represent, and a listing of the crosses on which each appears.  The first text for each image is that quoted by Harbison.  Where there are parallels I have included them.  One example of each image is provided.  Subjects are listed in the order in which Harbison presents them.  

Annunciation to Mary             Luke 1:26-38, No parallels                              Image appears 1 time

  • Graiguenamanagh, North Cross, West, Top . . .see photo right, source Harbison vol. 2



The Visitation                         Luke 1:39-42, No parallels                              Image appears 1 time 

  • Graiguenamanagh, North Cross, West 1 . . . . . .see photo right, source Harbison vol. 2




John the Baptist: Birth and Circumcision     Luke 1:57-59, No parallels        Image appears 4 times

  • Drumcliff, West 5
  • Durrow, Cross, North 3
  • Killamery, end of north arm, . . . . . . . . . . bottom right in photo right, source Harbison vol. 2
  • (?) Monasterboice, Tall Cross, South 3

John the Baptist Named          Luke 1:59-64, No parallels                             Image appears 2 times

  • Killamery, end of north arm, . . . . . . . . . .bottom left in photo right, source Harbison vol. 2
  • Monasterboice, Tall Cross, South 5
Drumcliff Cross, County Sligo, Ireland

John the Baptist Presented in the Temple     Luke 1:57-66, No parallels       Image appears 2 times(?)

  • (?) Boho, West 3
  • (?) Drumcliff, West 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..see photo right 




John the Baptist RecognizesJesus     Matthew 3:13 related to Baptism of Jesus (see below) Mark 1:9-11,                                        Luke 3:21-22, John 1:29-34                                                                            Image appears 3 times(?)

  • (?) Durrow, Cross, North 1
  • (?) Killamery, end of north arm, . . . . . . .top left in photo right, source Harbison vol. 2
  • (?) Kilree, end of south arm, bottom left

Salome Dances for the Head of John the Baptist     Mark 6:22-28 related to Death of John the Baptist, Matthew 14:3-12, Luke 3:19-20                                                                      Image appears 1 time

  • Killamery, end of north arm, . . . . . . . . . . top right in photo right, source Harbison vol. 2


Beheading of John the Baptist     Mark 6:27-28, Matthew 14:3-12, Luke 3:10-20  Image appears 1 time

  • (?) Kilree, end of south arm, . . . . . . . . . . .bottom right in photo right, source Harbison vol. 2




Annunciation to the Shepherds     Luke 2:8-11, No parallels                          Image appears 4 times

  • Arboe, north 4
  • Armagh, west 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right, source Harbison vol. 2
  • Donaghmore/Tyrone, east 1
  • Killary, west 1


Broken Cross, Kells, County Meath, Ireland

Wise Men with Herod     Matthew 2:1-7, No parallels                                     Image appears 1 time

  • Kells, Broken Cross, East 5 . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right




Muiredach's Cross, Monasterboice, County Louth, Ireland

Adoration of the Magi     Matthew 2:9-11, No parallels                                   Image appears 9 times 

  • Arboe, west 1
  • Armagh, west 2
  • Camus, east 1
  • Clones, north-west 1
  • Donaghmore/Tyrone, east 2
  • Galloon, East Cross, west 1
  • Killary, west 3
  • Monasterboice, Muiredach’s Cross, east 4 . . . see photo right
  • (?) Kilree, west face, head, bottom

Virgin and Child     No text identified                                                                    Image appears 1 time

  • Drumcliff, end of south arm . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right, source Harbison vol. 2




Arboe Cross, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland

Massacre of the Innocents     Matthew 2:16, No parallels                              Image appears 1 time 

  • Arboe, north 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right





Moone Cross, County Kildare, Ireland Flight into Egypt

Flight into Egypt     Matthew 2:13-14, No parallels                                         Image appears 1 time 

  • Moone, south side base 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right



Drumcliff Cross, County Sligo, Ireland, Return from Egypt

Return from Egypt     Matthew 2:10-21, No parallels                                      Image appears 1 time 

  • Drumcliff, west 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right




Arboe Cross, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, Jesus Before the Doctors

Jesus before the Doctors     Luke 2:46-49, No parallels                                 Image appears 2 times

  • Arboe, north 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right
  • (?) Armagh, east 5




Baptism of Jesus     Mark 1:9-11, Matthew 3:12-17, Luke 3:21-22, John 1:29-34  Image appears 11 times

Tall Cross, Monasterboice, County Louth, Ireland, Baptism of Jesus
  • Arboe, north 1
  • Armagh, west 3(?) 
  • Armagh, east 6
  • Boho, west 4
  • Camus, east 2
  • Donaghmore/Tyrone, east 3
  • Galloon, East Cross, west 2
  • (?) Galloon, West Cross, east 1
  • Kells, Broken Cross, east 1
  • Killary, west 2
  • Monasterboice, Tall Cross, west 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right
Broken Cross, Kells, County Meath, Ireland, Marriage Feast at Cana

Marriage Feast at Cana     John 2:1-11, No parallels                                      Image appears 7 times

  • Arboe, west 2
  • (?) Armagh, west 4
  • Camus, east 3
  • Clones, north-west 2
  • Donaghmore/Tyrone, east 4
  • Kells, Broken Cross, east 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right
  • (?) Killary, west 4
Market Cross, Kells, County Meath, Ireland, Healing the Centurion's Servant

Healing the Centurion’s Servant  Matthew 8:5-13, Mark 5:30, Luke 7:1-10, John 4:46b-54   Image 1 time                                                 

  • Kells, Market Cross, North 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right




Jesus Stills the Tempest  Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25         Image appears 1 time(?)  

  • (?) Kilnaruane, east 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . see photo below


Kilnaurane Cross, County Cork, Ireland, Jesus Stills the Tempest
Old Kilcullen Cross, County Kildare, Ireland, The Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles     Matthew 10:2-4 (names the twelve), No exact parallel.  Commissioning the Twelve see Mark 6:7 and Luke 9:1                                                                                Image appears 6 times    

  • Castledermot, North Cross, east face
  • Castledermot, South Cross, south side, shaft
  • Moone, west face, base 1
  • Old Kilcullen, west, east face . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right
  • (?) St. Mullins, east 1
  • Ullard, east face, shaft



South Cross, Castledermot, County Kildare, Ireland, Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish

Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish     John 6:1-13, Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:32-44, Luke 9:10b-17              Image appears 9 times

  • Arboe, west 3
  • (?) Camus, east 4
  • Castledermot, North Cross, south side, base, lower panel
  • Castledermot, South Cross, south side, base . . . . . . .see photo right
  • (?) Clonca, East Cross, east 4
  • Clones, North-west 3
  • Donaghmore/Tyrone, east 7
  • Kells, Market Cross, north 4
  • Moone, south side, base 1
Tall Cross, Monasterboice, County Louth, Ireland, Jesus Walks on Water

Jesus Walks on Water     Matthew 14:22 and 24-33, Mark 6:45-52, John 616-21  Image appears 1 time

  • Monasterboice, Tall Cross, east face, head, upper panel. . see photo right



Broken Cross, Kells, County Meath, Ireland, Jesus Delivers the Adulteress, Samaritan Woman at the Well, Raising Lazarus, Lame Man at Pool of Bethesda

Jesus delivers Adulteress or Samaritan Woman at the Well     John 8:2-11 (Adulteress), No parallels.  John 4:4-42 (Samaritan Woman), No parallels                                                          Image appears 1 time 

  • Kells, Broken Cross, east 3, right half. . . . . . . . .see photo right



Raising Lazarus or Lame Man at Pool of Bethesda     

John 9:38-44 (Lazarus), No parallels.  John 5:2-9a (Pool at Bethesda), No parallels

Image appears 1 time 

  • Kells, Broken Cross, east 3, left half of photo above
Market Cross, Kells, County Meath, Ireland, Suffer the Little Children

Suffer the Little Children     Matthew 19:13-15, Mark 10:13-14, Luke 18:15-16  Image appears 1 time

  • Kells, Market Cross, north 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right




Broken Cross, Kells, County Meath, Ireland, Entry into Jerusalem

Entry into Jerusalem     Luke 19:28, 33-36, Matthew 21:1-9, Mark 11:1-10, John 12:12-19  Image 5 times

  • Arboe, west 4
  • Clonmacnois, Cross of the Scriptures, west face, base, lower panel, left
  • (?) Donaghmore/Tyrone, east 5
  • Kells, Broken Cross, east 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . see photo right
  • (?) Old Kilcullen, west shaft, west 2
Tall Cross, Monasterboice, County Louth, Ireland, Kiss of Judas

Kiss of Judas     Matthew 26:47-49, Mark 14:43-52, Luke 22:47-53, John 18:2-12  Image appears 5 times

  • (?) Ardane, larger cross head, west face, north arm
  • (?) Castledermot, South Cross, north side, base
  • Clonmacnois, Cross of the Scriptures, south side base, upper panel
  • (?) Kells, Market Cross, east 1
  • Monasterboice, Tall Cross, west face, south arm . .see photo right


Market Cross, Kells, County Meath, Ireland, Peter Cuts off Ear of Servant

Peter Cuts off Ear of Servant     John 18:10-11, Matthew 26:51, Mark 14:47, Luke 22:49-50  Image 2 times

  • (?) Kells, Market Cross, east 2
  • Monasterboice, Tall Cross, west face, head, upper panel . .see photo right


First Mocking or Flagellation of Jesus     Mark 14:65, Matthew 26:67, Luke 22:63-65   Image 6 times

  • (?) Ardane, larger cross head, west face, south arm
  • Clonmacnois, Cross of the Scriptures, west 2
  • (?) Drumcliff, National Museum, upper fragment, west 2
  • Durrow, Cross, west 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right, source Harbison, vol. 2
  • Monasterboice, Muiredach’s Cross, end of north arm
  • Monasterboice, Tall Cross, west face, north arm

Denial of Peter     Luke 22:54-62, Matthew 26:69-75, Mark 14:66-72, John 18:25-27   Image 4 times

  • Durrow, Cross, west face, north arm . . . . . . . . . . . see photo right, source Harbison vol. 2
  • Kells, Market Cross, north face, constrictions of arms
  • (?) Monasterboice, Muiredach’s Cross, west face, north arm
  • Monasterboice, Tall Cross, west face, constrictions of arms.


Pilate Washes His Hands     Matthew 27:24, Mark 15:15, Luke 23:24-25, John 19:16   Image 3 times

  • Durrow, Cross, West face, south arm . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right, source Harbison vol. 2
  • Monasterboice, Muiredach’s Cross, end of south arm
  • (?) Monasterboice, Tall Cross, west face, top



Arboe Cross, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, Second Mocking of Jesus

Second Mocking of Jesus      Matthew 27:27-31, Mark 15:176-20a, John 9:2-3             Image 7 times  

  • Arboe, west 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right
  • (?) Ardane, Larger cross-head, west face, top
  • Castledermot South Cross, west face, top 2
  • Donaghmore/Tyrone, east 8
  • Drumcliff, west 4
  • (?) Kells, Market Cross, east 3
  • Monasterboice Muiredach’s Cross, west 1


Cross of the Scriptures, Clonmacnois, County Offaly, Ireland, Soldiers Cast Lots for Jesus' Garments

Soldiers Cast Lots for Jesus’ Garments     John 19:23-24, Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24  Image 3 times

  • Clonmacnois, Cross of the Scriptures, west 3 . . . . see photo right
  • Durrow, Cross west 3
  • (?) Monasterboice, Tall Cross, west 6




North Cross, Castledermot, County Kildare, Ireland, The Crucifixion

The Crucifixion     John 19:28-34, Matthew 27:33-37, Mark 15:22-26, Luke 23:33-34  Image 54 times

     Earlier Crucifixions

  • Castledermot, North Cross, east face, head . . . . . . see photo right
  • Castledermot, South Cross, west face, centre of head
  • Graiguenamanagh, North Cross, east face, head
  • Moone, west face, base 2
  • Newtown, west face, centre
  • St. Mullins, east face, centre of head
  • Ullard, east face, centre of head

 Northern Group

Donaghmore Cross, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, Crucifixion
  • Arboe west face, head
  • Armagh, head, east faceCarndonagh, east 2
  • Clones, north-west face, centre of headDonaghmore/Down, west face centre of head
  • Donaghmore/Tyrone, east face, centre of head . . . . see photo right
  • Downpatrick, east face head
  • Drumcliff, west face, centre of head
  • Galloon, head fragment, west face
  • Galloon, lost head fragment, west face
  • Kells, Unfinished Cross east face, centre of head
  • Killesher, face 1
  • Tynan, Well Cross, west face, head

  Central Group

  • Balsitrie, head
  • Castlebernard, south face, head
  • Clonmacnois Cross of the Scriptures, west face, centre of head
  • Clonmacnois, South Cross, west 3
  • Colp, west faceNorth Cross, Duleek, County Meath, Ireland, Crucifixion
  • Drumcullin, Cross head west face
  • Duleek, North Cross, west face, centre of head . . . . .see photo right
  • Duleek, South Cross west face
  • Durrow, Cross, west face, centre of head
  • Durrow, Cross head, west face
  • Kells, Market Cross north face, centre of head
  • Kells, Patrick and Columba’s Cross, west 2
  • Monasterboice Muiredach’s Cross west face, centre of head
  • Monasterboice Tall Cross, west face, centre of head
  • Monasterboice, North Cross west face
  • Monasterboice head fragment in National Museum face 1
  • Termonfechin east face, centre of head
  • Tihilly, west face, head

     Later Crucifixions

  • Addergoole, head fragment, west face
  • Cashel, west face
  • Dysert O’Dea, east face, upper fragment
  • Glendalough, Market Cross, east face head
  • Graiguenamanagh, South Cross, east and west faces
  • Inishcealtra (head only)
  • Kilfenora, Doorty Cross, west face, upper portion
  • Kilfenora, West Cross, east face
  • Kilgobbin, east face
  • Killaloe, Cross from Kilfenora, east face
  • Killaloe, fragmentary shaft, south faceRoscrea Cross, County Tipperary, Ireland, Crucifixion
  • Killeany, north face
  • Killeany, Cross head from 
  • Teaglach Einne, face 2
  • Monaincha, head west face
  • Roscrea, Cross, head, west face . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right
  • Temple Brecan, North Cross, east 4
  • (?) Temple Brecan South cross
  • Temple Brecan, West Cross, west 3
  • Tory Island, Tower Cross, face
  • Tuam, Market Cross, south face, head
Cross of the Scriptures, Clonmacnois, County Offaly, Ireland, Christ in the Tomb

Christ in the Tomb     Gospel of Peter 9-10, Matthew 27:57-61, Mark 15:2-47, Luke 23:50-56,                             John 19:38-42                                                                                                   Image appears 4 times

  • Clonmacnois, Cross of the Scriptures, west 1 . . . . . . . see photo right
  • Durrow, Cross, west 1
  • Kells, Market Cross, south 1
  • Monasterboice Tall Cross, west 1


Muiredach's Cross, Monasterboice, County Louth, Ireland, The Resurrection

The Resurrection     Luke 24:6, Saint Ephraem of Syria,                                 Image appears 4 times

  • (?) Clonmacnois, Cross of the Scriptures, west face, base, lower panel, centre
  • Drumcliff, National Museum, upper fragment, west 1
  • (?) Galloon, East Cross, east 3
  • Monasterboice, Muiredach’s Cross west face, south arm . . .see photo right



Carndonagh Cross, Carndonagh, County Donegal, Ireland, The Holy Women at the Tomb

The Holy Women at the Tomb     Matthew 28:1-8, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-13  Image 4 times

  • Carndonagh, east 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . see photo right
  • Clonmacnois, Cross of the Scriptures, west face, base, lower panel, right
  • (?) Kells, Unfinished Cross east face, north arm
  • Monasterboice, Tall Cross, west 3



The Ascension     Mark 16:19, Acts 1:6-11, Image appears 1 time    

  • Monasterboice, Muiredach’s Cross west face, top
North Cross, Ahenny, County Tipperary, Ireland, Raised Christ, Mission to the Apostles



Raised Christ/Mission to the Apostles     Matthew 28:19-20, No parallels      Image appears 6 times

  • Ahenny, North Cross, west face, base . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right
  • Ahenny, South Cross, east face, base, right panel
  • Clonmacnois, Cross of the Scriptures, west face, base, upper panel
  • Durrow, Cross, east 1
  • Monasterboice, Muiredach’s Cross west 2
  • (?) Monasterboice, Tall Cross, west 5
Cross of the Scriptures, Clonmacnois, County Offaly, Ireland, Traditio Clavium, Giving of the Keys

Traditio Clavium     Matthew 16:19, No parallels                                             Image appears 4 times  

  • Clonmacnois, Cross of the Scriptures, east 3 . . . . . . . .see photo right
  • Durrow, Cross, west face, top
  • Monasterboice, Muiredach’s Cross, west 3
  • Monasterboice, Tall Cross, west 4



Moone Cross, County Kildare, Ireland, The Risen Christ

The Risen Christ     [Similar to Majestas Domini and Second Coming and Last Judgment but without trappings typically associated with these scenes.]                                         Image appears 2 times(?)

  • (?) Kilgobbin, west face
  • (?) Moone, east face, centre of head . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right



Arboe Cross, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, The Second Coming of Christ

Second Coming of Christ     Matthew 24:30-31, Mark 13:24-27, Luke 21:25-28  Image appears 4 times

  • Arboe, east 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . see photo right
  • (?) Armagh, upper fragment west 5
  • (?) Drumcliff, east face head
  • (?) Galloon, lost head fragment, east face



Termonfeckin Cross, County Louth, Ireland, The Last Judgment

The Last Judgment     Matthew 25:31-34, 41, and 46 John 5:29                   Image appears 10 times  

  • Arboe, east face, head, centre
  • Armagh, head, west face
  • Clonmacnois, Cross of the Scriptures, east face, head, centre
  • Donaghmore/Down, east face, head, centre
  • Downpatrick, west face, head
  • (?) Drumcliff, east face, head
  • (?) Durrow, Cross east face, centre of head
  • (?) Galloon, lost head fragment, east face
  • Monasterboice, Muiredach’s Cross, east face head
  • Termonfeckin, west face, head . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo above right
Patrick and Columba Cross, Kells, County Meath, Ireland, Majestas Domini, Christ in Glory

Majestas Domini/Christ in Glory     Revelation 5:1-2                                      Image appears 4 times

  • Carrowmore, South Cross, west face
  • Clonmacnois Cross of the Scriptures, east face, head, top
  • Kells, Patrick and Columba’s Cross, west face, head, centre . . . .see photo right
  • Monasterboice, Muiredach’s Cross, east face, head [above last judgment]

New Testament related images

Muiredach's Cross, Monasterboice, County Louth, Ireland, St. Michael Weighing Souls

.St. Michael Weighing Souls (Psychostasis)

  • Monasterboice, Muiredach’s Cross, east face, head, below Last Judgment . . .see photo right (image below feet of Christ in Last Judgment scene)
  • Oldcourt, east face, lower panel, left and centre



North Cross, Duleek, County Meath, Ireland, Joachim and Anne Greet One Another at the Golden Gate, An Angle Brings Bread to the Virgin in the Temple, Joachim and Anne Fondling the Infant Virgin

Joachim and Anne Greet One Another at the Golden Gate     Protoevangelium of James 4:14

  • Duleek, North Cross, west 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right upper panel

An Angel Brings Bread to the Virgin in the Temple     Protoevangelium of James, 7:2 and 8:1

  • Duleek, North Cross, west 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right middle panel

Joachim and Anne Fondling the Infant Virgin

  • Duleek, North Cross, west 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .see photo right lower panel


Crosses with Christian Scripture Images:  By Name of Cross

This list is arranged by the names of the 74 crosses containing figural images.  Each image on each cross is listed.  The crosses are listed alphabetically by the name used by Harbison.  

Addergoole                    1 image

  • Crucifixion

Ahenny, North                1 image

  • Mission to the Apostles

Ahenny, South               1 image

  • Mission to the Apostles

Arboe                             12 images             7 of the top 10 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Annunciation to the Shepherds
  • Adoration of the Magi
  • Massacre of the Innocents
  • Jesus with the Doctors
  • Baptism of Jesus
  • Marriage Feast at Cana
  • Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish
  • Entry into Jerusalem
  • Second Mocking of Jesus
  • Second Coming
  • Last Judgment 

Ardane, large head        3 images

  • Kiss of Judas
  • First Mocking of Jesus
  • Second Mocking of Jesus

Armagh                          7 images                5 of top 10 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Annunciation to the Shepherds
  • Adoration of the Magi
  • Jesus and the Doctors
  • Baptism of Christ, twice
  • Marriage Feast at Cana
  • Last Judgment

Balsitrie                          1 image

  • Crucifixion

Boho                               2 images

  • John the Baptist presented in the Temple
  • Baptism of Jesus

Camus                           4 images

  • Adoration of the Magi
  • Baptism of Jesus
  • Marriage Feast at Cana
  • Multiplication of Loaves and Fish

Carndonagh                   2 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Holy Women at the Tomb

Carrowmore, South       1 image

  • Christ in Glory

Cashel                           1 image

  • Crucifixion

Castlebernard/Kinnitty   1 image

  • Crucifixion

Castledermot, North      3 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Twelve Apostles
  • Multiplication of Loaves and Fish

Castledermot, South     5 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Twelve Apostles
  • Multiplication of Loaves and Fish
  • Kiss of Judas
  • Second Mocking of Jesus

Clonca, East                 1 image

  • Multiplication of Loaves and Fish

Clones                          4 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Adoration of the Magi
  • Marriage Feast at Cana
  • Multiplication of Loaves and Fish

Clonmacnois, Scripture Cross  10 images, 2 of top 10 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Entry into Jerusalem
  • Kiss of Judas
  • First Mocking
  • Soldiers Cast Lots for Jesus’ Garments
  • Christ in the Tomb
  • Mission to the Apostles
  • Traditio Clavium
  • Last Judgment
  • Christ in Glory

Clonmacnois, South     1 image

  • Crucifixion

Colp                              1 image

  • Crucifixion

Donaghmore/Down      2 images 

  • Crucifixion
  • Last Judgment

Donaghmore/Tyrone    8 images                6 of top 10 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Annunciation to the Shepherds
  • Adoration of the Magi
  • Baptism of Jesus
  • Marriage Feast at Cana
  • Multiplication of Loaves and Fish
  • Entry into Jerusalem
  • Second Mocking of Jesus

Downpatrick                 2 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Last Judgment

Drumcliff                       10 images              3 of top 10 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Birth of John the Baptist
  • John the Baptist presented in the Temple
  • Virgin and Child
  • Return from Egypt
  • First Mocking of Jesus
  • Second Mocking of Jesus
  • Resurrection
  • Second Coming
  • Last Judgment

Drumcliff, fragment       2 images

  • First Mocking of Jesus
  • Resurrection 

Drumcullin                    1 image

  • Crucifixion

Duleek, North               1 image

  • Crucifixion

Duleek, South               1 image

  • Crucifixion

Durrow, Cross               11 images              2 of top 10 images

  • Crucifixion
  • John the Baptist’s Birth
  • John Recognizes Jesus
  • First Mocking of Jesus
  • Denial of Peter
  • Pilate Washes his Hands
  • Soldiers Cast Lots for Jesus’ garments
  • Christ in the Tomb
  • Mission to the Apostles
  • Traditio Clavium
  • Last Judgment

Durrow, Cross Head     1 image

  • Crucifixion

Dysert O’Dea                1 image

  • Crucifixion

Galloon, East                3 images

  • Adoration of the Magi
  • Baptism of Jesus
  • Resurrection

Galloon, West               1 image

  • Baptism of Jesus

Galloon, Head Fragment  1 image

  • Crucifixion

Galloon, Lost Head Fragment  3 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Second Coming
  • Last Judgment

Glendalough, Market    1 image

  • Crucifixion

Graiguenamanagh, North  3 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Annunciation to Mary
  • The Visitation

Graiguenamanagh, South  1 image

  • Crucifixion

Inishcealtra, Head         1 image

  • Crucifixion

Kells, Broken Cross      6 images                2 of top 10 images

  • Wise Men with Herod
  • Baptism of Jesus
  • Marriage Feast at Cana
  • Adulteress or Samaritan Woman
  • Lazarus or Bethesda
  • Entry into Jerusalem

Kells, Market Cross      9 images                3 of top 10 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Healing of Centurion’s Servant
  • Multiplication of Loaves and Fish
  • Suffer the Little Children
  • Kiss of Judas
  • Peter Cuts Ear of Servant
  • Denial of Peter
  • Second Mocking
  • Christ in the Tomb

Kells, Patrick and Columba Cross  2 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Christ in Glory

Kells, Unfinished Cross  2 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Holy Women at the Tomb

Kilfenora, Doorty Cross  1 image

  • Crucifixion

Kilfenora, West             1 image

  • Crucifixion

Kilgobbin                       2 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Risen Christ

Killaloe, from Kilfenora  1 image

  • Crucifixion

Killaloe, Shaft Fragment  1 image

  • Crucifixion

Killamery                       4 images

  • Birth of John the Baptist
  • John the Baptist named
  • John recognizes Christ
  • Salome Dances for John’s Head

Killary                            4 images

  • Annunciation to the Shepherds
  • Adoration of the Magi
  • Baptism of Jesus
  • Marriage Feast at Cana

Killeany                         1 image

  • Crucifixion

Killeany, Cross Head    1 image

  • Crucifixion

Killesher                        1 image

  • Crucifixion

Kilree                             3 images

  • John Recognizes Jesus
  • Beheading of John the Baptist
  • Adoration of the Magi

Kilnaruane                     1 image

  • Jesus Stills the Tempest

Monaincha                     1 image  

  • Crucifixion

Monasterboice, Head Fragment  1 image

  • Crucifixion

Monasterboice, Muiredach’s  12 images     5 of top 10 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Adoration of the Magi
  • First Mocking of Jesus
  • Denial of Peter
  • Pilate Washes his Hands
  • Second Mocking of Jesus
  • Resurrection
  • Ascension
  • Mission to the Apostles
  • Traditio Clavium
  • Last Judgment
  • Christ in Glory

Monasterboice, North    1 image

  • Crucifixion

Monasterboice, Tall Cross  14 images         4 of top 10 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Birth of John the Baptist
  • John the Baptist Named
  • Baptism of Jesus
  • Kiss of Judas
  • Peter Cuts Ear of Servant
  • First Mocking of Jesus
  • Denial of Peter
  • Pilate Washes His Hands
  • Soldiers Cast Lots for Jesus’ Garments
  • Christ in the Tomb
  • Women at the Tomb
  • Mission to the Apostles
  • Traditio Clavium

Moone                           6 images            3 of top 10 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Flight into Egypt
  • Twelve Apostles
  • Multiplication of Loaves and Fish
  • Jesus Walks on Water
  • Risen Christ

Newtown                       1 image

  • Crucifixion

Old Kilcullen          2 images

  • Entry into Jerusalem
  • Twelve Apostles

Roscrea, Cross             1 image

  • Crucifixion

Saint Mullins                 2 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Twelve Apostles

Temple Brecan, North   1 image

  • Crucifixion

Temple Brecan, South  1 image

  • Crucifixion

Temple Brecan, West   1 image

  • Crucifixion

Termonfeckin                2 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Last Judgment

Tihilly                            1 image

  • Crucifixion

Tory Island, Tower Cross  1 image

  • Crucifixion

Tuam, Market               1 image

  • Crucifixion

Tynan                           1 image

  • Crucifixion

Ullard                           3 images

  • Crucifixion
  • Twelve Apostles
  • Last Judgment
 Barney McLaughlin 2012