An Post issued a set of four stamps as part of the Ireland Series, which this year features High Crosses. The stamps feature original line drawings of Drumcliffe Cross in Co. Sligo, Carndonagh Cross in Co. Donegal, Ahenny Cross in Co. Tipperary and Monasterboice Cross in Co. Louth.
High Crosses, or Celtic Crosses as they are also known, are found throughout Ireland, usually on old monastic sites. They were erected mainly to mark a sacred space and to declare adherence to Christian beliefs. High Crosses, along with the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow, are regarded as Ireland’s biggest contribution to Western European Art of the Middle Ages. Before the High Crosses, Ireland had no tradition of using cut stone, so when the first crosses appeared, they created an entirely new aspect of Irish art.
A typical High Cross was built in three or sometimes four parts – the bottom part being a conical or pyramid base. Into this the shaft of the cross was slotted and crowned by the cross head – with, in most cases, the shaft and head being constructed in one piece. The whole piece was then topped by a capstone – most of which are lost today.
The worst enemy of the Irish High Cross is the Irish weather. Many of the High Crosses were made from sandstone, a material which was easy to work with but incapable of surviving centuries of rain and wind.
Title: Ireland Series – High Crosses
Date of Issue: 8 April 2010
Denominations: 55c x 4