The Derrynaflan Chalice is an 8th- or 9th-century chalice, that was found as part of the Derrynaflan Hoard of five liturgical vessels. The discovery was made on 17 February 1980 near Killenaule, County Tipperary in Ireland. According to art historian Michael Ryan the hoard "represents the most complex and sumptuous expression of the ecclesiastical art-style of early-medieval Ireland as we know it in its eighth- and ninth-century maturity." The area known as Derrynaflan is an island of pastureland surrounded by bogland, which was the site of an early Irish abbey. The chalice was found with a composite silver paten, a hoop that may have been a stand for the paten, a liturgical strainer and a bronze basin inverted over the other objects. The group is among the most important surviving examples of Insular metalwork. It was donated to the Irish State and the items are now on display in the National Museum of Ireland.
The hoard was probably secreted during the turbulent 10th to 12th centuries, when Viking raids and dynastic turmoil created many occasions when valuables were hidden. The early and later 10th century is marked by a particular concentration of hoarding in Ireland.
Derrynaflan is a small island of dry land situated in a surrounding area of peat bogs, in the townland of Lurgoe, Co. Tipperary, northeast of Cashel. The monastery was an important foundation in the period preceding the Viking raids; the present modest ruins of a small Cistercian nave-and-chancel abbey church there, however, date from a later period.
The Derrynaflan Hoard was discovered on 17 February 1980 by Michael Webb from Clonmel and his son, also Michael, while they were exploring the ancient monastic site of Derrynaflan with a metal detector. They had the implied permission of the owners of the land on which the ruins stood to visit the site but they had no permission to dig on the lands. A preservation order had been made in respect of the ruin under the National Monuments Act, 1930, so that it was an offence to injure or to interfere with the site. The discovery was initially kept secret for three weeks.
The behaviour of the Webbs, and nearly seven years of litigation, culminating in the Supreme Court action where they unsuccessfully sought over £5,000,000 for the find, led to the replacement of Irish laws of treasure trove by the law in the National Monuments (Amendment) Act, 1994, with a new Section 2 being included in the legislation.
The Ardagh Chalice dates from around the same period, perhaps a century earlier, of the Derrynaflan Hoard and was found close by in neighbouring County Limerick. At the time, the ruling dynasty in Tipperary and most of Munster were the Eóganachta, while their longtime allies and possible cousins the Uí Fidgenti ruled in the Limerick area. Feidlimid mac Cremthanin, king-bishop of Cashel, who became King of Munster in 821 and died in 847, was a patron of the monastic foundation at Derrynaflan and has been suggested as a possible patron of the chalice.
As a masterpiece of Insular art, the Derrynaflan chalice was included in the exhibition "The Work of Angels: Masterpieces of Celtic Metalwork, 6th–9th Centuries AD" (London, 1989, included in the catalogue).
- Byrne, Francis J., Irish Kings and High-Kings. Four Courts Press. 2nd edition, 2001.
- Duffy, Seán (ed.), Medieval Ireland: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. 2005.
Coordinates: 52°36′06″N7°43′20″W / 52.60159°N 7.72236°W / 52.60159; -7.72236
Derrynaflan Hoard, National Museum of Ireland
Photo : Nigel Borrington
On Saturday I spent the day in Dublin , shopping and visiting different Museums , including the National Museum of Ireland .
One of my main interests in doing so was to take a fresh look and the Derrynaflan Hoard, I posted on the items in this collection and about the Island of Derrynaflan , county Tipperary – last October.
The Derrynaflan chalice is one of the most amazing historic items to view and the story (Below) of how it was discovered just as fascinating. Seeing this hoard just make you wonder how many more items like it have yet to be found or sadly never will be.
The following two images are from Saturdays vistit :
Island of Derrynaflan
The Island of Derrynaflan is located in County Tipperary and these days it is surrounded by recovered drained land that is harvested for it’s peat, this peat being turned into fuel.
The images below and the text are from my post last year :
Discovering the Hoard
Derrynaflan Island, County Tipperary
Irish Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington
The Derrynaflan hoard is one of the most spectacular hoard discoveries in Ireland, which led first to an increase in enthusiasm for metal detecting as a hobby, but ultimately contributed to the prohibition of unlicensed searching for archaeological material.
On 17 February 1980, Michael Webb and his son, also called Michael, discovered a significant hoard of early church treasure in Derrynaflan, in the townland of Lurgoe, County Tipperary, using metal detectors (Kelly 1994: 213; O’Riordain 1983: 1). The hoard included a chalice, a bronze strainer ladle and a paten (a kind of small plate) (and see Ryan 1983 for a detailed description), and the discovery was described as ‘one of the most exciting events in the history of Irish art’ (Stalley 1990: 186). The large monastic enclosure in which the hoard was found was partially protected as a National Monument (Kelly 1993: 378). The finders reported their discovery to an archaeologist from University College Cork, Dr. Elizabeth Shee Twohig (Kelly, pers. comm., 2012), who advised them that they must take the finds to the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin (Houses of the Oireachtas 1986; O’Riordain 1983: 1). Under Irish law at that time, the finders were entitled to a reward for making the discovery, in this case decided at IR£10,000 (Houses of the Oireachtas 1986), although this was initially rejected by the finders as insufficient compared to the value of the find (Kelly 1994: 213).
Six years later, the High Court made a ruling that the find or its value (estimated at IR£5.5 million) should be returned to the finders (Kelly 1994: 113). The public mood turned against the Webbs, who were shown on the main evening television news drinking champagne to celebrate the ruling. Ireland was then in deep recession with massive public service cuts which led to resentment that the Webbs might benefit to the tune of IR£5.5 million from the public purse (Kelly, pers comm., 2012). A year later, in 1987, a further final judgement was delivered by the Supreme Court that the Derrynaflan Hoard in fact belonged to the state and not to the finders (Kelly 1995a). The finders finally received a reward of IR£50,000 (Kelly 1994: 214).
The impact of the case on Irish law concerning the protection of heritage was significant. Debates in the Seánad Éireann (upper house of the Irish Parliament) in 1986 indicate the split in opinions regarding the validity of the claim of the finders to the hoard (as had been decided in court the previous year), with one Senator suggesting that the state should have been trying to prove that the Webbs had no legal claim to the hoard, one Senator regarding such discoveries as no more than looting, and another claiming that the finders should instead be praised for the care with which they removed the hoard from the ground and for going to the National Museum to report the discovery (Houses of the Oireachtas 1986). In 1987 the National Monuments (Amendment) Bill, which included clauses on metal detecting and ancient shipwrecks (another area becoming vulnerable to looting), passed through its final stages in the Dáil Éireann (lower house of the Irish Parliament) (Gosling 1987: 23).
Ireland’s National Monuments Act 1930 had prohibited the excavation of archaeological objects other than under license (Kelly 1995a). However, the maximum fine for a successful prosecution at that time, at IR£10, proved not to be a strong deterrent (Kelly 1995b: 235). The discovery of the Derrynaflan Hoard had reputedly contributed to the growth of the metal detecting hobby in Ireland, which by the time of the discovery saw hobbyists searching not only ploughed land and other locations away from archaeological sites, but also on known archaeological sites (Kelly 1993: 378). A 2012 Irish news item, which described an athlete as having ‘more gold than they found in Derrynaflan’ (Keane 2012) indicates that the finding of the hoard is still recalled in Irish popular memory. However, with the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1987, ‘it became illegal to search for archaeological objects with metal detectors or other electronic detecting devices without license’. A further National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1994 specified the state ownership of archaeological objects, and made it ‘an offence to trade in unreported antiquities, or withhold information about archaeological discoveries’ (Kelly 1995a). Under the 1994 legislation, the maximum penalty was also increased to a fine of IR£50,000 and five years imprisonment (National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1994, Section 13). The National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1987 had been in preparation for many years and so was not a direct reaction solely to the controversy surrounding the hoard (Kelly, pers. comm., 2012), although there were observations made that the upsurge in metal detecting as a result of the discovery led to changes in the law (Kelly 1994: 214).
Ref : http://traffickingculture.org/encyclopedia/case-studies/derrynaflan-hoard/
A visit two Derrynaflan island Gallery
May 25, 2015 | Categories: a closer look, Comment, Forgotten places, Nigel Borrington, Travel Locations | Tags: Archaeology, Derrynaflan, Derrynaflan Chalice, Derrynaflan Hoard, Ireland, irish histroy, National Museum of Ireland, Nigel Borrington, Tipperary | 4 Comments