The Celtic Warrior
During Ireland’s monastic period 550 – 1150 the monks were amongst the finest artists and metalworkers found anywhere in the world. In fact their skills were so well respected even the Vikings- far to the north envied their work, and so much so that they would raid the monasteries along the coast to acquire these precious works of art.
The Vikings eventually they found it necessary to forray further inland to find other monastries that had not yet been sacked.The monks also were learning not just their crafts but also the need to protect their treasures from invaders. At first the monks built tall round towers, with the lowest door some thirteen feet above the ground. These doors were very narrow and were easy to defend, but over time the Vikings adapted new strategies , that would yield the same results as before – to acquire as much precious works of art, as they could carry.
The monks began to turn to local chieftains for protection. The local Chieftains were quite happy to defend the monastery, but it could take some time to raise an army on short notice, so the monks employed other tactics as well. When a raid was imminent, the monastery would send one monk, on horseback, to the Chieftain and another monk or monks would take their treasures off and bury them.
In the case of the Ardagh Hoard we can assume with some certainty that on his return the monk was captured, but never divulged the location of the chalice and other treasures. The Vikings probably killed him trying to extract where the treasures were located. Refusing to surrender them he was probably tortured and put to death. This is exactly what happened with the “Ardagh Hoard.” About 150 years ago two young boys found Ireland’s greatest find of ancient metal craft buried in a bog, in Co. Limerick. The Ardagh Chalice is now on display in The National Museum in Dublin, with it’s contents. Select jewelers from Dublin made castings from the rim of the chalice and created a line of jewelry and called it The Celtic Warrior, in honor of the monk who gave up his life in defense of their precious works of art created in the service of his God.