Isle of Man

Manx Crosses - St Adamnan's, Old Lonan Church


A selection of Celtic pre-Viking crosses, including the wonderful wheel cross, still ion its original position


St Adamnanís Church was one of the first keeils to be established in the Isle of Man. The keeilís provided shelter for the Culdee (Irish missionary) and the congregation worshiped outside around a cross.

The Lonan wheel Cross dates from  early days of  keeil in the C5th and is the only cross still standing in its original position on the south side of the church yard and in its original base.

Lonan Old Church crosses

It stands 8í high and is a wonderful example of interlaced Celtic knot and plait work. The back of the cross is uncarved. Even though it has been exposed to the elements for over 1500 years, the carving is still clear, even though the cross has begun to lean, giving it an attractive lop sided angle.  This must rank as one of the most important and significant crosses on the island. It is similar to the wheel cross in Braddan Old Church  which may have been carved by the same person.

Lonan Wheel Cross

Lonan wheel cross

The other eight crosses from around the parish, are found in the small cross house in the bottom corner of the church yard and are much more worn. These are all Celtic era crosses with none of the Viking mythology seen in other crosses on the island.
 
Lonan cross house

Lonan Old Church crosses

These include some of the oldest crosses on the island with just a simple cross carved on them.

Lonan Old Church crosses    Lonan Old Church crosses

In some, only the head of the cross survives.

Lonan Old Church crosses

Cross 77 shows the beginning of the development of the wheel headed cross.

Lonan Old Church crosses

There are two almost intact simple wheel headed crosses, which lack  intricate carving of the wheel cross in the churchyard.

Lonan Old Church crosses     Lonan Old Church crosses

The Hairdwillagh Cross Slab consists of two fragments found at a ruined farm in Glen Roy, where it was being used as a door lintel. When intact, this formed a wheel cross with an extended  lower arm forming the shaft ending in two spirals. There is a carved spoon like object at the head of the shaft which may represent the ladle used during the Eucharist.

Lonan Old Church crosses

The crosses are in the churchyard which is accessible any time. The church is isolated and not the easiest to find. There are full details at the end of this page. The grid reference is SC 427794 and the nearest post code is IM4 6AL

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