Glendalough: Power, Prayer and Pilgrimage
Glendalough is one of Ireland’s most important monastic sites. It lies in a beautiful valley between two lakes in county Wicklow. The earliest stories of the life of St Kevin or Cóemgen – its patron saint - (d.618 AD) describe how a nobleman led a simple life of prayer here and banished a monster from the lake. The story of its founder speaks of someone seeking solitude and silence from the world in a remote mountain valley. The idea of retreating from the world around us and entering isolation is something that resonates strongly at this time, as our society emerges from a period of extended isolation.Glendalough is of national significance as the story of a saint who became intertwined with landscape, buildings and objects as Christianity transformed medieval Ireland. The major players in medieval Ireland were all involved from the Vikings, bishops and abbots, to local and national kings. The valley was also the centre of a struggle for power between Anglo-Norman and Gaelic worlds. Its landscape was transformed by industry and early tourism while remaining an important spiritual place for locals and travellers alike.
Despite reasonably rich historical evidence, archaeology, and in particular portable objects, provide important physical evidence for life in this important early monastery. Partnership between archaeologists, park administrators and local authorities and the local community at Glendalough has allowed a rich approach to making places through heritage. Twenty-six objects which have never been exhibited before celebrate this special place. Researching these objects brings rich insights into the lives of both the humble and powerful who travelled as pilgrims or who lived at Glendalough. Some of these objects were chance discoveries while others came from carefully planned archaeological investigations. From a tenth century woman’s leather shoe lost in a Glendalough bog to the decorated pin of an eleventh century bishop praying on the windswept mountainside these objects and their stories are carefully cared for at the National Museum of Ireland.
Join Museum staff, archaeologists and scientists, in exhibitions, laboratories, and at archaeological sites and monuments, to discover what archaeologists and museums do, and the archaeology and objects of Early Christian Ireland.
With a set of resources consists of videos, comic strips and activities for Post-Primary students to use when learning about archaeology and Early Christian Ireland. Click here to learn more.
Find out more about the Archaeology and History of Glendalough
|Amplify Archaeology Podcast chats to Maeve Sikora & Matt Seaver on how Glendalough: Power, Prayer & Pilgrimage was curated|
Glendalough: Power, Prayer and Pilgrimage is located at:
Glendalough is of national significance as the story of a saint who became intertwined with landscape, buildings and objects as Christianity transformed medieval Ireland. The major players in medieval Ireland were all involved from the Vikings, bishops and abbots, to local and national kings.
Exhibition opened on 17th September, 2020.
Events Related to this Exhibition
Glendalough: Power, Prayer & Pilgrimage; Online Gallery
An online gallery of the objects in the Glendalough: Power, Prayer & Pilgrimage exhibition.Learn more about these objects which have never been exhibited before.
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