The foundation of a priory of Knights Hospitallers of St. John has been attributed to Walter de Lacy in the late 12th century (O’Connell 1957, 20-1; 1960, 17-18), but the Hospital of St. John the Baptist at Kells was a house of the Fratres Cruciferi or Crutched Friars (Gwynn and Hadcock 1970, 213). This house is easily confused with the Hospitallers’ grange at Kilmainhambeg. At its suppression in 1540 only the church of St. John was extant, the other buildings having been thrown down, but there was 74 acres of demesne including a water-mill, and other properties around Kells (White 1943, 264-5). It was situated outside the town on the Dublin road, at the bottom of the E-facing slope. There are no visible remains of a church in a rectangular graveyard (dims c. 45m E-W; c. 30m N-S) defined by masonry walls. There is a cross-slab, a 13th-century effigy of a woman, and a large fragment of a graveslab in the graveyard. Archaeological monitoring (02E1244) of the construction of a new wall at the S and W of the graveyard demonstrated that the wall was built on bedrock (D c. 0.6m) at S (Meenan 2004). A full survey of the graveyard inscriptions has been undertaken (Mc Cabe 2007).
The above description is derived from the published 'Archaeological Inventory of County Meath' (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1987). In certain instances the entries have been revised and updated in the light of recent research.
Compiled by: Michael Moore
Date of upload/revision: 2 July 2014Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.