The Vikings 9th - 10th Centuries

The Vikings invaded Ireland and Britain in 795 AD. They pillaged the country destroying many monasteries, books and precious ornaments. Between 875 AD and 915 AD, after the Viking onslaught, much renewal and rebuilding was undertaken, and a great vigour returned to all the crafts.


Round Towers

Round towers were built in order to house and protect precious objects and books. They reach approximately 30-40 metres in height.

Example: Round Tower at Glendalough, Co. Wicklow

High Crosses

High crosses were present in monastic settlements before the Vikings arrived. However following the Vikings, the stone carvers developed a new impetus. Larger crosses were made and figure carving, illustrating stories from the Bible, replaced decorative patterns. It is believed that these stone crosses were once painted in order to mimic the vivid illustrations found in manuscripts.

Example: High Cross at Kells, Co. Meath

Book of Kells

The Book of Kells was created during this period of amendment. The illustrations in this manuscript are much more complex than those in previous gospel books. Human figures, animals, mythical beasts, and vines all knot together to create intricate interlacing patterns in vibrant colours and rich gold. The manuscript is known as the Book of Kells because it was housed in the Abbey of Kells for centuries.  It is now on permanent display at Trinity College Library.

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