Ireland in the Golden Age
Monasteries as patrons of the arts
The seventh century saw the start of the Irish Golden Age when schools of art, learning and missionary endeavour sprang up throughout Ireland. Under the patronage of monasteries and the wealthy elite Irish craftsmen produced some of Europe’s finest early medieval decorated manuscripts and artefacts of gold, silver and stone.
Schools of art
In this period continental and Anglo-Saxon art influences were combined by Irish craft workers to create an insular art style. Innovations in sculpture, ornamental metalwork, manuscript illumination and architecture, coincided with developments in literature, language and grammar and the establishment of new church practices.
Styles of art
The elaborate motifs and scenes executed in stone on the High Crosses reflect not only the skill of the stonemasons but also highlight the transfer of artistic concepts and designs between the crafts of stone, metal and manuscript illumination of the period. As free standing sculptures, Irish high crosses dominated the architecture of Ireland’s main church settlements.