Crusader, XIII Century, Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny

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Where: Kilkenny, Ireland

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When: Unknown

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From long gone golf clubs, to long gone glory hunters in Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny. This fine stone effigy, with superb detail, looks like an interesting subject for a day in which the rain is belting down (at least here in Dublin)!

And so we learned that this effigy was (and still is) at the doorway to Duiske Abbey in Graiguenamanagh. We also learned that, while the "crusader" description arose from the cross-legged stance of these types of medieval reliefs, later research suggests that the stance doesn't neccesarily denote a crusader specifically. Whether crusader or not, this depiction of a 13th century knight could perhaps capture William Marshall, the Anglo-Norman knight who founded the abbey in 1204. Or maybe another local, Alan Beg, who offered significant tithes in exchange for a burial at the abbey....

Photographer: Robert French

Collection: Lawrence Photograph Collection

Date: c.1865-1914 (perhaps captured c.1900s)

NLI Ref: L_ROY_07201

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at


Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 21231
lawrenceroyals robertfrench williamlawrence lawrencecollection lawrencephotographicstudio glassnegative nationallibraryofireland crusader graiguenamanagh cokilkenny stoneeffigy finedetail alanbeg knight relief effigy duiske duiskeabbey graiguenamanaghabbey medieval chainmail williammarshall lawrencephotographcollection

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    Niall McAuley

    • 03/Mar/2017 09:30:27

    Per wikipedia on Duiske Abbey, Graiguenamanagh: An effigy of a 13th-century Norman Knight found in the ruins is installed by the main entrance. He is depicted seizing a sword and is carved with great attention to detail. It is one of the finest medieval effigies in Ireland.

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    • 03/Mar/2017 09:31:50

    "And we are indebted to Geraldine Carville in her book, Norman Splendour, in which she nails down the identity of the Knight of Duiske Abbey thought by man[y] to be the finest effigy of its kind in Ireland. "The figure of the knight in armour, cross-legged in the manner of a Crusader, armed in transverse banded mail, seizing a sword and which was carved in the 13th century. He is Alan Beg, who gave half of the tithes (taxes) accruing to his huge estate in nearby Ullard in exchange for a burial place in Duiske Abbey." From -

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    Niall McAuley

    • 03/Mar/2017 09:33:25

    GeoHive 25" map link

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    • 03/Mar/2017 09:37:19

    Seems to be recumbent now, and in considerably worse condition than Mr French/Lawrence's day -

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    • 03/Mar/2017 09:45:37

    John Hunt, in his two-volume book on Irish Medieval Figure Sculpture (page 171), describes this as the effigy of an unknown knight and dates it to the late 13th / early 14th centuries. He says: "The commemorated man is represented in the sword-grasping attitude, the left hand holding the scabbard, and the right the hilt of the sword. The left leg is crossed over the right. He is armed in transversely-banded mail. The head rests on a double cushion and is protected by a coif, the skull, which is of rounded form, being outlined by a heavier band than those composing the remainder of the headpiece. The neck and shoulder defences are continuous with the mail of the head, also covering the chin, and the face of the opening is rather heart-shaped in outline. The surcoat, which is tighter across the shoulders than those at Kilfane or Cashel, is gathered at the waist by a girdle, and opens down the front over the thigh, falling in folds to the calf of the leg. The hauberk, vented in front, is long, descending to the top of the knee-cap, and the arms and legs are defended by mail in horizontal bands. The feet are missing, and there are no garters shown. The hands are defended by fingered mail gauntlets continuous with the sleeves of the hauberk. The sword has a short, strong, slightly arched cross, and is supported by a broad belt carried diagonally over the hips, secured by a buckle with the chape hanging down in front. The sheath is attached to the belt by a band and a lace, the ends of which hang in a loose knot in front. "The general form of the armour may be compared to that on the monument of Sir Gerard de Insula, of 1260-1270, at Stow Nine Churches, Northants, where this type of surcoat occurs. On that monument, however, the gauntlets are of muffler type and the headpiece is more bulbous. The form of the skull here appears to be that of the Pershore Knight of about 1280. "The same type of gauntlet is shown on Sir Robert de Keyne's monument at Dodford, Northants, of about 1310. The arrangement of the belt and girdle and the attachment of the sword and general sculptural style indicate a date in the last quarter of the thirteenth century or the early in the fourteenth. Fryer has stated that the stone from which the effigy was carved is Kilkenny marble (palaeozoic rock)."

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    • 03/Mar/2017 10:31:38

    Attn LIBRARY TOWERS [] - You have some of Alan Beg's paperwork (or parchmentwork?!) - Also see this book extract - [I have no idea what all this is about !!]

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    O Mac

    • 03/Mar/2017 10:35:24

    The knight can be seen as clear as day beside doorway where Robert French saw him.

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    • 03/Mar/2017 10:44:07

    And this one - - has a convenient fountain on the corner with an "1899" earliest date. Looks like it is several years old at least.

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    • 03/Mar/2017 10:48:54

    "1901" memorial - ED- and "1906" on the new one at left. THANKS MEGAZOOM™

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    • 03/Mar/2017 10:49:19

    [] It seems that missing parts of the sculpure (as visible on the photo by French) once were completed with plaster, and that it was later restored to the condition in which it was originally found. See also photo in

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    John Spooner

    • 03/Mar/2017 11:11:54

    I've nothing to add on the subjects of effigies and crusaders, but this seems the right place to share this document I came across at the UK National Archives in Kew last week. It's part of a form registering copyright. Lawrence_French

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    Bernard Healy

    • 03/Mar/2017 13:30:02

    It's interesting that this knight is described as a 'crusader'. It was thought for quite some time that the effigy of a knight with his legs crossed was an indicator that the man in question had been on the crusades. However, modern scholarship has debunked that theory. (Aw! Modern scholarship strikes again!) I wonder if there's anything other than the man's posture behind the idea that he was a crusader.

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    • 03/Mar/2017 13:43:25

    not bad for a 600 year old fellow.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 05/Mar/2017 23:24:59

    Thanks all! Map/tags/etc all updated.

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    Dr. Ilia

    • 08/Mar/2017 09:00:06