Wood and copper-alloy crozier, Lismore, Co. Waterford

Lismore Crozier

circa AD 1100

NMI L1949:1

The Lismore Crozier was discovered in a blocked-up doorway at Lismore Castle, in the early years of the 19th century. Like most medieval Irish croziers, it is formed of a wooden staff decorated with sheet bronze, spacer knops, and surmounted by a cast copper-alloy crook. The crook is cast in a single piece and is hollow apart from a small reliquary which was inserted in the drop. Both sides of the crook are decorated with round studs of blue glass with red and white millefiori insets. Three animals with open jaws form the crest of the crozier, and these terminate in an animal head with blue glass eyes. An inscription at the base of the crook records the name of Neachtain, the craftsman who made the crozier, along with the Bishop of Lismore, who commissioned it.

Croziers such as this were symbols of power and authority. Many date to a period of political upheaval, when the Irish Church was undergoing reform. This reform led to competition between the larger monasteries as they strove to become the new diocesan centres. Lavish church treasures such as croziers and other shrines were commissioned at this time, partly to reinforce the claims of particular monastic centres and their secular patrons.

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