Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Glendalough: St. Mary's Church - or Lady Chapel

West gable and graveyard
There’s no denying that the central precinct of Glendalough is pretty packed with tourists during the summer season. While the round tower, St Kevin’s church, the graveyard, and all that are lovely and interesting, it’s just not possible to take a photograph without other people getting in the shot (and you becoming part of someone else’s holiday snaps too!). With buses disgorging a seemingly endless stream of sightseers, the site does take on something of the feel of a theme park. While I’m fully aware that these sites would have bustled with activity in their heydays, I do prefer my medieval ruins to be still and peaceful … and that quietude is just not to be found there. Or so I thought. In my wanderings, I bumped into a couple of student archaeologists working on a small trench near the gateway. They directed me up the road and into a field where the main UCD Archaeology Department excavation was taking place. I was lucky enough to bump into the crew just at the end of lunchtime and was given a guided tour of the excavation. You can download and read detailed accounts of some of their excavations [here]. At the end of a very enjoyable spell learning about the newly discovered archaeology of Glendalough & renewing some old acquaintances, I happened to ask if it was possible to get to the church I could see poking out thorough bushes and trees in the next field. I fully expected to be told that it was off limits and couldn’t be reached. I was instead pleasantly surprised to find that it was merely a case of negotiating a couple of gates under the shade of the trees and suddenly I was standing in the sunlight and soaking up the beauty of the ruin known as St Mary’s Church or Lady Chapel.

Lady Chapel as seen from near 'Kevin's Kitchen'
The nave appears to be of 10th or 11th century date and the chancel is a later addition. The outside of the east window has a Romanesque moulding. For my money, though, the gem of this site is the cross with circular-terminals, carved on the underside of the door lintel. Well ... that may be the archaeological gem of this place, but the really amazing thing about the site is that it was so quiet and peaceful. It’s just 500ft (about 140m) from St Kevin’s Church/’Kitchen’. Over there it was all hustle and bustle, but here – just a field away – I could hear the birdsong and the wind gently rustle the leaves.

Approaching across the field
I’m in two minds about whether I should be promoting this site for its peace and solitude, thereby potentially destroying the very thing that makes it special. However it is – in every sense – off the beaten track and I think I’m safe enough. The busloads of tourists hitting the site for their scheduled 30 minute slot, to take a few photos and buy a souvenir or two will never have the time, inclination, or footwear, to make it this far. It will, I believe, remain the preserve of the lucky few to come here and enjoy the tranquility before heading out again, refreshed, into the tumult.


East window with Romanesque moulding


West Gable

Through the cross-decorated doorway & on to the lakes beyond


Cross inscribed on the underside of the door lintel


View into the later chancel with the Round Tower in the background


The west doorway


The peace and quiet of the graveyard

Notes:
Much of the detail about the individual sites has been rather shamelessly taken from some excellent sites & I urge you to go and explore them too:


To view the 3D Images you’ll need a pair of red/blue glasses. These can be purchased relatively cheaply from Amazon [here].

Glendalough: St. Mary's Church - or Lady Chapel 3D

< Back to Main Post < Index of Glendalough Posts










To view the 3D Images you’ll need a pair of red/blue glasses. These can be purchased relatively cheaply from Amazon [here].


< Back to Main Post < Index of Glendalough Posts

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Glendalough: Round tower




Round Towers generally date to the period from the 9th to 12th centuries and probably served a variety of functions, from acting as a belfry to call monks to prayer to a refuge in times of strife. In all but one surviving case they have doors at first-floor level to accommodate either pole valuters or beard-rapelling monks, or (less likely) access by rope ladder [here | here].

Glendalough’s round tower is about 30m tall with an entrance about 3.5m above the present ground level and is constructed from mica-slate and granite. Having suffered damage in a lightning strike, its conical roof was rebuilt in the 19th century using the original stones. Internally, the tower held six wooden floors, each connected by ladder and lit by a single narrow window. The topmost floor had four windows, facing the cardinal points.










Notes:
Much of the detail about the individual sites has been rather shamelessly taken from some excellent sites & I urge you to go and explore them too:

To view the 3D Images you’ll need a pair of red/blue glasses. These can be purchased relatively cheaply from Amazon [here].

Glendalough: Round tower 3D

< Back to Main Post < Index of Glendalough Posts





To view the 3D Images you’ll need a pair of red/blue glasses. These can be purchased relatively cheaply from Amazon [here].


< Back to Main Post < Index of Glendalough Posts

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Glendalough: St Kevin’s ‘Kitchen’


If there’s one image that typifies Glendalough, it’s the unique survival that is commonly known as St Kevin’s ‘Kitchen’. This stone roofed oratory dates broadly to the 12th century, though it appears to have had a complicated building history. If I understand it correctly, the church started as a nave-only structure with a sacristy and chancel added later. The integral belfry with four small windows and conical cap seems intended to mirror the adjacent round tower. It is this feature – resembling a chimney – that led to it being rebranded as a kitchen rather than a church. Seeing as it dates to about a half a millennium after the time of St Kevin, he wasn’t cooking up dinner for anyone there either.








Notes:
Much of the detail about the individual sites has been rather shamelessly taken from some excellent sites & I urge you to go and explore them too:



To view the 3D Images you’ll need a pair of red/blue glasses. These can be purchased relatively cheaply from Amazon [here].

Glendalough: St Kevin’s ‘Kitchen’: 3D

< Back to Main Post < Index of Glendalough Posts






To view the 3D Images you’ll need a pair of red/blue glasses. These can be purchased relatively cheaply from Amazon [here].


< Back to Main Post < Index of Glendalough Posts

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Glendalough: The Gateway


Some time ago I was invited to speak at an event in south County Dublin and, seeing that I had some time on my hands and was in the right general vicinity, I took the opportunity to carry on to the end of the M50 and off into Wicklow to renew my acquaintance with the wonderful monastic site at Glendalough.* Last time I’d been there was when I was an undergraduate, so a return visit was long overdue.

Glendalough (the valley of the two lakes) was founded by St Kevin in the 6th century. However, none of the standing structures date to this early time. The gateway is a unique survival. Today it is a roofless structure with rather fine granite arches in the north and south walls, along with projecting ante. It appears to originally have been two-stories tall and had a wooden roof. Just inside the gateway, and butted up against one of the ante, there is an incised cross on a large sub-rectangular stone that is usually interpreted as demarcating the boundary of the sanctuary.

To document my excursion, I also brought along my camera, tripod, and an adjustable mounting that allows me to slide the camera along the focal plane. When used together, I can capture near-identical photographs that are then combined (with the right software) to create 3D anaglyph images. In this series of posts I’m going to present a number of my images and place the 3D shots in a set of dedicated appendices. While I’ve been fascinated with 3D photography for most of my life – and actually taking 3D images for several years now – I had a special reason for wanting to try it out here. Some time previously I had seen a number of late 19th/early 20th century stereogram images of the gateway at Glendalough and it impressed me that there had once been a time when such sets of views were a common tourist purchase. While tourists and pilgrims still come to the site, stereograms have had their day. It just lodged in my head that the next time I got to Glendalough, I’d take 3D shots. Ironically, not one of my attempts to get a viable 3D shot of this gateway actually paid off.** Instead, (and with the permission of the owner, Conor McDermott) I append the original stereograms reconfigured as single-image anaglyphs.






Notes:
* For a given value of ‘general’

** To be most effective, this method of creating anaglyphs depends on the camera being the only thing to move between shots. Thus, where there is substantial movement of people or even swaying foliage, the results can range from 'minor annoyance' to 'completely unusable'. Unfortunately, my photographs of the Glendalough gateway fell into the latter category. Maybe next time ...

Much of the detail about the individual sites has been rather shamelessly taken from some excellent sites & I urge you to go and explore them too:

To view the 3D Images you’ll need a pair of red/blue glasses. These can be purchased relatively cheaply from Amazon [here].

Glendalough: The Gateway: 3D

< Back to Main Post < Index of Glendalough Posts





Original images courtesy of Conor McDermott, personal collection

To view the 3D Images you’ll need a pair of red/blue glasses. These can be purchased relatively cheaply from Amazon [here].


< Back to Main Post < Index of Glendalough Posts

Out and about in Glendalough, Co Wicklow. A Table of Contents of the Posts

Some time ago I had the opportunity to visit the Early Christian monastic site of Glendalough, Co. Wicklow for the first time in a couple of decades. I saw the sights, I took some photos. I even turned some of the photos into 3D anaglyphs. I intended to follow all of this up with a series of posts for this blog, extolling the virtues of this magnificent site, presenting my images, and telling a few stories along the way. That was 2015 and I’m only getting around to completing it now, in 2017.


The purpose of this post is to act as a Table of Contents to the various posts. As each post is published, the corresponding links will go live, so if you can’t reach an individual post, do come back later!

The Posts
Glendalough: St Saviour's Priory

*           *           *

The 3D Photos
Glendalough: St Saviour's Priory