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St. Columba's Church and Grounds
St. Columba's Church and Grounds mark the original site of the Monastery of Kells. In the 6th century the High King of Tara, is said to have granted the dun of Cenannus to St. Columcille for the purpose of establishing a monastery. This may explain why in 804 the Columban community on the island of Iona (Hebridies) then the principal of Columban monastery, moved to Kells to escape the reaches of Norse raiding parties. St. Columba's church stands on the site of the original Columban monastery. The grounds contain three Celtic high crosses and a round tower.
Kells Round Tower
The Round Tower is located in the grounds of St. Columba’s Church and was built in the 10th century. Kells round tower has a number of unusual features. It has five top windows instead of the usual four. These overlook the five ancient roads leading into town and correspond to the five medieval town gates – Cannon, Carrick, Maudlin, Dublin and Farrell Gates. Sacred vessels and the Book of Kells were kept in the Tower. It is from here that the Book of Kells was stolen in 1007.
St. Colmcilles House
This house dates from the early 10th century and is characteristic of an oratory from that period. Access to the monks sleeping accommodation in the loft is by a modern ladder. The Oratory is kept locked and access may be gained by walking a short way down the hill to Mrs. Carpenter’s house, she has the key and can offer a brief guide to the Oratory.
The High Crosses
Some of the Highlights from the five crosses are the Cross of St Patrick and St. Columba also known as the South Cross, eat face pictured below stands around 3.30 metres high and was erected in the 9ht century. On the east face you can see Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel, above that The Three Children in the Furnace and above that Daniel in the Lions Den. This is the earliest of the five crosses in Kells
The West Cross or Ruined Cross
The West Cross or Ruined Cross, which stands at the west end of the graveyard mast of been a very fine High Cross, it has some beautifully inscribed decorative panels on it’s north and south sides,
The Spire of Lloyd
The first Earl of Bective erected the Spire of Lloyd, a mock lighthouse in 1791, in memory of his father Sir Thomas Taylor. The architect was Henry Baker who completed the design of the King Inns in Dublin. A section of land adjoining the Tower was given to the Kells Union Workhouse to be used as a pauper’s graveyard.