Stones and slabs

Rathdown slabs

Closely linked to the church sites dating from the eleventh and twelfth century are the slabs found in Dublin. It is not possible to date the slabs exactly as Irish kings still ruled in Ireland during the early Viking era and later on many Vikings were inclined towards Christianity, so really the slabs could have been erected at anytime during this period.

There have been 32 slabs recorded in Dublin, mainly in the city, south of the county and into Wicklow. They are classed in two main divisions, A and B. Group A consists of crosses with double raised rings. Group B consists of 21 slabs, located at sites around Rathmichael and feature unique decoration.

The first mention of the slabs in Rathdown was in 1781, by Austin Cooper (noted antiquary) in Stillorgan where he mentioned 'a head stone with rude circles thereon'. It was to be 38 years later before two other slabs were discovered in the area of Rathdown. These were well documented and researched by P.J. O'Reilly in an informative report published in 1901 and this was extended as more slabs were discovered.

The following unique characteristics apply to the Rathdown slabs; decoration consisting of mainly concentric circles, cup marks, centre bands, herringbone patterns and semi-circular loops and some crosses. All of these characteristics point towards Viking art. The slabs are all made of granite and excluding 3 stones, are between 4 and 5 inches in thickness.

The concentration of slabs is in the Rathmichael area with 10 stones recorded and any similar slabs found being no more than four miles away. The patterns no doubt are significant and bear a close resemblance to slabs found in Scotland and Wales.

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