Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Castledermot Hogback

One of the most interesting finds in my opinion to be found on the grounds of St. James church yard is the Hogback stone. It was found lying underneath the turf back in 1967 near the south-west corner of the church. It is said that the rector at the time of the find Rev. R.R.H. Wharburton retained its original location and east-west orientation whilst raising the stone to its current level. This is the only know stone of its kind found in Ireland. The stone itself is unfortunately suffering from erosion and should probably be moved to a museum to avoid further damage.

Hog back stones are deemed to be Scandinavian grave markers; they have a curved ridge similar to the Viking dwellings found at Trelleborg in Sweden, circa 10th century. And were ornately decorated, due to the considerable erosion on this stone it is quite hard to make out the diamond designs on one side and the two cross type carving on the other.  It is believed that this type of monument originated from Viking settlements in the UK, examples have also been found in Scotland.  Despite their believed origins none of these Hog backs have ever been found in the Viking homelands of Scandinavia.

These stones which would have been made from locally available types of stone, which would have varied in hardness, colour, and shape. As a result, it is quite possible that there may have been more of these stones in Ireland which may have eroded away because they were made from a softer type of stone. This would therefore make it difficult to pinpoint the precise location and time when the hogback stone emerged.

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