Dublin’s Medieval High Cross

Market cross, High Street
Market Cross, High Street, Dublin (Source: UCD Library, see References)

This image shows Dublin city’s lost medieval ‘High Cross’ as drawn by John Simons in 1784. The panels on the shaft contain scenes of the Crucifixion, Descent from the Cross and the Passion.  It formerly stood near the junction of High Street and Skinner’s Row (now Christchurch place). A market cross, its steps were used as a location to publicly read proclamations, Papal Bulls, sentences of excommunication and other documents of importance to the citizens of the city (Gilbert 1854, 213).

It was also used as a site to perform public penances. For example in March 1571, as a punishment for adultery, Henry Hinchcliffe was sentenced thus:

Upon Saturday next, at six of the clock in the morning he shall come unto the Cross in the High Street of Dublin, having on a white sheet from his shoulders down to the ground, and a paper about his head whereupon shall be written, ‘For adultery: leaving his wife in England and marrying with another here,’ and a white wand in his hand and then and there go up unto the highest step of the Cross and there sit during all the time of the market until it be ended” (Gilbert 1854, 213-214).

Unfortunately the cross was taken down sometime in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century and nothing now survives of this once famous Dublin landmark.



Gilbert, J. T. (1854) A history of the city of Dublin, Vol. 1. Dublin. 

Image Source: UCD Library Digital Collections


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