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Irish Round Towers

20 devenIsh Ulsters finest St. Molaise founded Devenish in the 6th century, and Vikings destroyed it in 836. Its remains include a 12th century tomb shrine, a 13th century church, and a late medieval high cross. The tower is of finely cut sandstone, the door has a true arch and architrave, with a large angleheaded window above it. The unique carved cornice at the top has a band of lozenges, scrolls and four human heads, possibly representing the evangelists or Irish saints. An earlier tower was destroyed in 1157 when the king of Fermanagh was burnt in the cloicteach by his own kinsmen. Its foundations are nearby. The new king of Tara was treacherously killed in Kells cloicteach in 1076, during inauguration rituals, and kings are associated with other towers, so they had royal as well as monastic significance. Perhaps their elevated doors had the same symbolism as Charlemagnes throne, sited on the upper floor of Aachen cathedral so that everyone else was below him. An abbot could also have emphasised authority in this way. The Devenish tower has as elaborate carvings as any Irish church. Perhaps there was also a chapel inside it, as there was in the towers on the St. Gallen plan see page 36. 21
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