CLONCA  MONASTIC SITE

Located near Culdaff, the monastery at Clonca founded by St. Buodan, was one of the most influential centres for the conversion to Christianity in Inishowen from the 6th century onwards. On the site are two high crosses, St. Bodan’s Cross and another very large partial cross lying nearby and often overlooked.

The remains of a small 17th century church stand on the foundations of a larger, earlier church. Inside the ruins can be found one of the broken arms of the partial cross along side the remarkable 15th or 16th century medieval grave slab known as the Galloglas Stone.

BODAN CROSS, CLONCA

St. Bodan’s Cross dates from the 10th century and stands 4 metres tall. It is carved in the distinctive manner of hybrid art produced by the Christian Celtic tradition and the carvings are both beautiful and intriguing.

The figurative panel in the centre of the west face contains two figures sitting side by side. It is believed to represent St. Paul and St. Anthony in the desert and above them the lions that dug St. Paul’s grave. A panel on the east face clearly represents the parable of the loaves and fishes. On the only surviving arm Oran’s figure is depicted on one face.

The rest the cross is entirely covered in abstract ornament – well-carved interlacing frets patterns and one unusual panel of spirals with animal head terminals. Unfortunately, the cross is incomplete. The missing arms were replaced with plain concrete in the 1980‘s.

For our version of the Bodan Cross, we have taken inspiration from the west face of the Cross. Rather than leaving the missing parts blank we have mirrored the maze pattern of the right arm onto the left arm.

We have transposed the panel identified as the Miracle of the Loaves from the east face of the Cross on to the top arm and have extrapolated from the remnants of the central pattern a circular Celtic ribbon plait.

WEST CROSS, CLONCA

This beautiful 12th century wheeled cross is a partial cross lying about 100 metres away to the west of the Bodan cross.

The large head of this 2nd cross lies beside the socket on which it may have stood. The head is broken diagonally at the top of the presumed shaft. The shaft is missing.

One broken arm with its roundel carving was found in the early 1980’s and lies within the nearby 17th-century church ruin. At 1.36 metres wide including arms this cross would have been a substantial size.

It features 5 roundels carved with intricate Celtic patterns, still visible in the photo taken by Mabel Colhoun in the 1940’s though harder to make out today.

The other face of the cross has similar carving with design differences in the roundels.

For our version of this cross, the missing shaft has been added, the proportions of other existing high crosses have been referenced for scale. The roundel details from both sides of the cross have been used.