• Some 18th century granite headstones in Wicklow

    There are many graveyards throughout Wicklow that feature some wonderful examples of headstones dating from the 18th century. Amongst the finest of these are a distinctive series carved in granite that can be dated from the mid 1750s to about 1780. These are most common in south Wicklow, and where the headstones occur they frequently stand out from all the others in the graveyard. This is partly because of their bold carvings, often featuring the usual passion symbols or alternatively symbols of mortality. But what makes them particularly distinctive is the Baroque form of the tops of many of the headstones. The Baroque forms, which are only found in this granite series and not in any other contemporary headstones, are influenced by a vernacular interpretation of true Baroque, at a time when such architectural forms were long out of fashion. The headstones are most common in the south of the county, particularly the graveyards at Macreddin, Preban and Whaley Abbey near Ballinclash. This suggests that the stone cutter who carved them was based somewhere in the Aughrim area, and most likely sourced his stone at Tinnakilly Hill nearby.

    For a comprehensive discussion of this series, see my paper in the most recent volume of the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (Vol 140; 2010), a series of essays in honour of Siobhán de hÓir.

    1 Comment

    • 1. Feb 19 2013 5:10PM by John Tierney

      Hi Chris, I know there are signed Denis Cullen headstones in that same graveyard - are any of the baroque stones signed? I looked for the article in jstor but it is not showing yet.

      Lovely photograph.

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