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Situated on the steep NE facing slope down to the River Boyne with a NW-SE section of the stream c. 200m distant. The name Fennor may be derived from Neachtan, a pagan deity and guardian of the River Boyne. In a Christian manifestation he was a disciple of St Patrick and a tutor of St Cianán of Duleek (Ó Riain 2011, 512-3). Abbots of Fennor are recorded from 804 to 1024 (Cogan 1862-70, 1, 136-7). A church at Fynowre is listed in the ecclesiastical taxation (1302-06) of Pope Nicholas IV (Cal. doc. Ire. 5, 252). Ussher (1622) describes the church and chancel at Finnor as ruined (Erlington 1847-64, 1, lxviii). According to Dopping’s Visitation (1682-5) the church had been a ruin since (16)41 and the graveyard was not enclosed (Ellison 1971, 34). The early church with cyclopean masonry became the parish church of Fennor and is within a rectangular graveyard (dims c. 43m WNW-ESE; c. 34m NNE-SSW) defined by masonry walls.
This is an undivided nave and chancel church (ext. dims 18.7m E-W; 7.1m N-S) but only portions of the N, W, and E walls survive with no features apart from an ogee-headed aumbry in the E wall of the chancel. There is portion of a sacristy (ext. dims 5.4m E-W; 3.05m N-S) attached to the E end of the S wall and a buttress supports part of the N wall. The cyclopean nature of the masonry can be seen particularly at the SW angle, but the interior of the church is completely overgrown. A cross-base (dims of top 0.58m x 0.51m) with a rim around the socket (dims 0.38m x 0.23m; D 0.23m) is almost completely buried c. 10m S of the E end of the church. The fragment of a high cross (Wth 0.6m; H 0.56m; T 0.24m) that came to light in the graveyard in 1991 may have related to the socket, and it is now displayed at the W end of the Roman Catholic church in Slane (ME019-025001-). The original W face has a crucifixion while the E has perhaps six bosses in an interlace pattern (Harbison 1990-91, 138-42). A fragment of a graveslab with the date 1548 is recorded from the graveyard (FitzGerald 1914-15) but was not noted in 2014. A section-face in a nearby road-widening operation just to the N cut through pits and post-holes (Swan 1972). Fennor castle (ME019-036----) is c. 40m to the S.
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 revision: 15 December, 2014
Description Source: National Monuments Service, Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.