[Caves expiatoires, Inishmurray]

Plan and profiles of so-called 'caves expiatoires', in reality monastic cells or clochans, and related monuments on Inishmurray, Co. Sligo. Fig. 1: the great stone circle surrounding the cells. Fig. 2: the 'Irish' stone dedicated to Muidhr; Fig. 3: the 'Indian' stone dedicated to the sun. A and B: ruins of chapels dedicated to St Malase [Molaise] and St. Columb [Columcille]. C: each of the four 'caves'. D: the position of the stone. Small d: each of the two entrances to the circle. These explanations are given on p. iv. In addition, small b represents the boundary wall. A scale in feet is provided in the bottom left-hand corner.
Plate from Collectanea de rebus hibernicis (1786), provided by Charles Vallancey, who idiosyncratically interpreted the cells as evidence of cave worship, being, he alleged, ‘Antra Mithrae’ associated with the cult of Mithra, or the sun.

Sources:
Archaeological Survey of Ireland, at http://webgis.archaeology.ie/historicenvironment/, record no. SL001-001001-. Accessed 23.02.2018.
Charles Vallancey (ed.), Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicis, part II, no. XIV (Dublin: Luke White, 1786), pp. 210-212, 220, and plate 5.

Image Details

Genre Scientific or Technical illustration
Technique Copperplates
Subject(s) Antiquities and archaeological sites
Geographical Location
  • The Cashel, Inishmurray - Named locality
  • Inishmurray - Island
  • Sligo - County
  • Connaught - Province
Keywords(s) Antiquities, Archaeological sites, Churches, Sculpture, Stelae, Temples
Colour Monochrome
Published / created 1797

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account Promenade d'un Français
Contributor(s)
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy opposite p. 216
Permalink
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Related text from travel account

À une quinzaine de milles en mer à l'entrée de la baye, est une île nommée Innis Murry, fameuse par les ruines de caves expiatoires et la pierre du soleil ou Muidhr qui a donné le nom à cette île. Le général Vallancey prétend que ce Muidhr est le Mithra des Persans et le Mahody des Gentous: il en tire des conclusions qui semblent assez fondées, pour prouver l'origine à laquelle les traditions irlandaises prétendent. Il donne l'estampe de la pierré dédiée à Mahody, ou [p. 216] le Dieu Suprême, que le capitaine Pike découvrit dans un temple Gentou, dans l’île d'Eléphanta aux Indes: il est sûr qu’elle ressemble fort à celle qu’il donne aussi de celle dédiée à Muidhr, dans l’île Murry. Les deux pierres sont taillées en cône, et l'une comme l'autre sont entourées d’un cercle pour prévenir toute profanation et sont placées dans des îles pour le même dessein. [pp. 215-216]
[Spelling and punctuation updated]

Translation:
Fifteen miles away by sea, at the entrance to the bay, there is an island called Innis Murry, famous for the ruins of its penitential cells and the Sun stone or Muidhr which has given its name to the island. General Vallancey asserts that this Muidhr is the Persian Mithra and the Mahody of the Gentous: from this he draws conclusions which appear well founded, proving the origins that Irish traditions claim. He has published an engraving of the stone dedicated to Mahody, or [p. 216] the Supreme God, which Captain Pike discovered in a Gentou temple, on the island of Elephanta in India: it certainly does greatly resemble the one he has also published of the stone dedicated to Muidhr, on the island of Murry. Both stones are cone shaped, and each of them has a circle inscribed around it, to protect it from any profane use, and each is placed on an island for that same reason.
Caves expiatoires, Inishmurray