Situated on a rise with rock outcrop on the S-facing slope of Carrickdexter Hill, and on the S side of the old road from Slane to Navan. This cross of fossiliferous limestone is known as the Baronstown cross (Wilde 1849, 170) and was erected c. 1607 by Jennet Dowdall and her husband Oliver Plunket. It is complete, with a shaft (dims 0.36m x 0.23m; H 2.22m) and collar (dims 0.57m x 0.4m; H 0.2m) but the upper shaft is modern. It has inscriptions, figure sculpture and heraldic shields on all four sides. It is described by King (1984, 106) as:
This cross consist of a lower shaft, collar and upper shaft. Both the lower shaft and collar are rectangular in section, decorated in relief and false relief. It is now set on a modern plinth and is badly weathered. The shaft is decorated with inscriptions, figure sculpture and heraldic shields. The inscriptions are in very badly executed Roman lettering and are full of contractions.
W side: S/AINT PETR/. Underneath the inscription the saint is shown with two keys, wearing a mitre and pleated tunic in an ogee-headed panel. The inscription continues: (I) PRAY YO(U)/ SAINT PETE/R PRAY FO/R THE SOV(L)ES OF OLIV/ER PLUNKET/ (LO)RD BARON/(OF) LOUTH & DAME JENET/DOWDALL/HIS WIFE/.
E side: SA/INT PATRI/ACK. Below, a bearded St Patrick is holding a double crossed crozier in his left hand and giving a blessing with his right, in an off-centre ogee-headed panel. The remainder of the inscription is: I PRAY YOU/SAINT PA(T)RICK PRAY/FOR THE SO/VLES OF OL/R PLUNKET/LORD BARON/OF LOUTH &/DAME JENET/DOWDAL/HIS WIFE/.
N side: Over a very worn shield with the Plunket (sable a bend argent in sinister chief a tower triple-towered of the last) and Dowdall arms (gules a fess between five martlets argent) impaled are the letters O.P and I.D. Below: THIS CROSS/WAS BVILDED BY/DAME IENET DOW/DALL LATE WIF(E)/VNTO OLIVER PL(U)NKET LORD BAR/ON OF LOVTH FOR/HIM AND FOR HER/SELF IN THE YE/RE OF OUR LORD/GOD 16.. WICH/LORD DECEACED/THE 5 OF MARCH/1607 AND BVRIED/IN THE CHVRCH/0F SAINT TERE/IN TALL ANIS/ TOWNE / WHOSE SOVLE (I) PRAY GOD TAKE TO/HIS MERCY/AMENN/IESUS/.
S side: The letters M.T and L.B. occur above a shield with the Tyrell (?) arms (gules two bars ermine between seven crosses pattée, three and one or on a chief of the last a demi lion issuant of the first) impaling those of Barnwall (ermine a bordure engrailed gules). Below the inscription is: IHS MARY/HAILE MARY/FVLL OF GRACE/OUR LORD IS/WITH THE HA/ILE SWETE VR/GN THE MOTHE/R OF GOD THE V/ERY EXCELLENT/QVENE OF HEAVE/PRAY FOR THE/SOVLS OF OLIV/ER PLUNKET AND/DA IENET DOWDA/L HS WF FOR/THY SWET SONE/S ESVS HS SAKE/. The collar has two demi-angels with large wings holding undecorated shields on the N and S side and one angel on the E and W faces. It is badly damaged and one quarter is modern. The upper shaft is concrete.
This cross can be dated to c. 1607. It is one of a pair which Jennet Dowdall put up for her second husband, Oliver Plunket. The other cross is at Louth Hall (LH014-060----), Tallanstown, Co. Louth.
(Wilde 1849, 170; Cogan 1862 vol. 1, 297; Du Noyer 1867, 55-8; Garstin 1898, 109-111; Crawford 1907, 229; FitzGerald 1912, 605-606; Davies 1943, 212-15)
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.
Date of upload/revision: 10 July 2007
Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.