January already. It’s been a few months since I’ve posted anything on here because just as last term was busy and demanding, the Spring term is proving to be a wicked one too. So it seems only fair that my first post of the new year should be one in which I catch up on what I’ve been up to in my online absence.

Since my previous article in which I wrote about a course trip to the British Museum to visit the Celts: Art and Identity exhibition I’ve been lucky enough to be on other trips to see a number of buildings, artworks and various artifacts of historic interest. In mid November the department took our Art of the Insular World group to Dublin on another trip, which was brilliant. I also went on a visit to Shropshire with my volunteering group at the Churches Conservation Trust to see three historic churches and discover their individual oddities and secrets.

So as I’ve mentioned before, in the third year the History of Art module take you on a trip with one of your modules. Whist other groups went to Germany and whatnot, we remained relatively local (as is the nature of the module being the Insular world). The trip to Dublin, for as cold and as wet as it was, only heightened my love for the Insular world and the artworks we’d been looking at across the module.

If you hear third year is difficult, that’s partly true. But I can say that in my experience of it so far, and from some other students that it’s been the year when we’ve finally found that one movement, moment, period, era, whatever you want to call it, that we enjoy the most. The art of the Insular world for me has been that highlight. It’s something I’ll enjoy reading about and learning about for the rest of my life. So for as mad as the third year can seem, I think you begin to learn a lot about yourself and feel comfortable with your studies.

In Dublin we visited the National Museum of Ireland and presented on pieces from the collection in The Treasury. This is where they keep some of the most extraordinary examples of early Irish art there are to be seen. From a 1st century BC bronze sword hilt through to an 11th century AD crozier, the pieces on display in the Treasury are satisfyingly reflective of Ireland’s transformation from its pre-Christian beginnings, through the Golden age of Christianity and into the Viking impact and Church reform.

On other days we took day trips to Monasterboice and Kells to see the high-crosses. The richly decorated iconographic programs of these sizable crosses was something to be seen to be believed.

I would love to waffle on more about the art we saw in Ireland and the places we went and so on. But because my fingers ache from writing most of the day, I’ve decided I’ll put some pictures up instead. Don’t worry, I’ve captioned them with whimsical points of interest.

Carved stone head, 1st-2nd century AD. National Museum of Ireland. The multiple faced head is a repeating trait to a lot of early European sculpture across Europe before the Anglo-Saxon period. I am endlessly intrigued by the repetition of this kind.
Carved stone head, 1st-2nd century AD. National Museum of Ireland. The multiple faced head is a repeating trait to a lot of early European sculpture across Europe before the Anglo-Saxon period. I am endlessly intrigued by the repetition of this kind.
Wood and silver crozier, late 11th century AD. National Museum of Ireland. One of the highly decorated croziers in the collection. Unique because most of the metal coverings around the wooden staff on this piece are silver, as opposed to copper-alloy, like most other croziers of the period. The use of the human form is repeated in various ways along the length of the crozier, with my favourite being this one at the top.
Wood and silver crozier, late 11th century AD. National Museum of Ireland. One of the highly decorated croziers in the collection. Unique because most of the metal coverings around the wooden staff on this piece are silver, as opposed to copper-alloy, like most other croziers of the period. The use of the human form is repeated in various ways along the length of this crozier, with my favourite being this one at the top, his body decorated similarly to early manuscript depictions and metalwork.
This delicate,1st century BC, model boat made of beaten sheets of gold was perhaps an offering to a sea-god. Found as part of the Broighter gold hoard. National Museum of Ireland.
This delicate,1st century BC, model boat made of beaten sheets of gold was perhaps an offering to a sea-god. Found as part of the Broighter gold hoard.
National Museum of Ireland.
Roman silverware, late 3rd-4th century AD. National Museum of Ireland. Possibly related to the southeast of England. This silverware does suggest a Roman presence in Ireland. Something surprisingly controversial in the eyes of some historians.
Roman silverware, late 3rd-4th century AD. National Museum of Ireland. Possibly related to the southeast of England. This silverware does suggest a Roman presence in Ireland. Something surprisingly controversial in the eyes of some historians.

 

High Cross at Monasterboice.
High Cross at Monasterboice.
The 'Unfinished Cross' at Kells. Little work was completed on this cross apart from the large, central Crucifixion scene depicted on it's East face.
The ‘Unfinished Cross’ at Kells. Little work was completed on this cross apart from the large, central Crucifixion scene depicted on it’s East face.
Muiredach High Cross at Monasterboice. 9th-10th century. The detail on this high cross is exceptional. In some instances, eyes, hair and eyebrows can still be identified on the figures depicted.
Muiredach High Cross at Monasterboice. 9th-10th century. The detail on this high cross is exceptional. In some instances, eyes, hair and eyebrows can still be identified on the figures depicted.

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