The cross known as the Market Cross was situated at the junction of Market St. and Castle St., on the perimeter of the ecclesiastical enclosure (ME017-044025-) defining the monastic site of Ceanannus. However, it is not known if this is its original location since an inscription on the shaft says the cross was erected by Robert (Ba)lfe in 1688. Nevertheless, Swan (1998) avers that it is a termon or boundary cross in its original position on the perimeter of the monastery. In any case what was the S face was probably facing E originally. The cross was moved to its present location (ME017-044043-) in front of the Court House between the Dublin and Headford roads in 2001 (King 2004)and erected correctly with what had been the S face now facing E. The Court House has been converted into an interpretive centre for the history of the town, but it is currently closed for conservation works.
Even the lesser sides of the shaft of this ringed cross have decorated panels, and it can be dated to the 10th century. The cross (H 2.75m; Wth 1.65m) has a shaft (dims 0.53m x 0.37m) with damaged roll-moulding set in a pyramidal base (dims at base 1.34m x 1.25m; H 0.6m) decorated with hunting and riding scenes.
The panels are listed from the bottom as they were at Market St. The E face has the betrayal of Judas, Peter cuts off an ear, and the flagellation of Christ. The W face has an unidentified scene, the judgement of Solomon, Samuel anointing David, and the pillar of fire. The S face has a panel of spirals, Christ in the tomb, David proclaimed King of Israel, Adam and Eve with Cain and Abel. The head has David and his harp beneath Daniel in the lions’ den at the crux, with the sacrifice of Isaac and the temptation of Anthony on either side. The N face has the Balfe inscription, Christ and the little children, the healing of the centurion’s servant, and the miracle of the loaves and fishes. The crucifixion is at the crux with the denial of Peter, the temptation of Anthony, and Saints Paul and Anthony. At the W end of the arms is David slaying the lion and Saints Paul and Anthony in the desert are at the E end. The top of the cross is missing. (Harbison 1992, 1, 103-08)
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.