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An Irish medieval pilgrim memento

2020 Camino Guides

Paladina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles et al (2018), Mozarabe and more (2019)
Wandering around the Keepers of the Gael exhibition in Galway City Museum - a welcome refuge from the annual Christmas shopping spree - I spotted an unusual object on display: part of a cast bronze riding stirrup bearing an ornamental plate in the form of a well-worn scallop shell. Form has given way to function, with its elongated shaped bearing a curious resemblance to a bishop’s mitre. The item was discovered at Clontuskert Abbey, and the curator, who has dated it to the thirteenth or fourteenth century, surmises that its owner may have returned from a pilgrimage to Santiago. Although I’ve come across innumerable commemorative coins, medals, plaques, pins and badges, this is the first material evidence I’ve seen of a pilgrimage on horseback. Has anyone else come across something similar?
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I can well imagine. Souvenir shops selling Santiago stirrups and tack ornaments. It makes total sense.
Like one of those number plate holders for your car, but more classy.
Anyone?
 

Togabogie

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Considering galways past history and spanish influence , it makes sense that it would come from that particular part of the isle!! Maybe it was owned by a spaniard who settled in hibernia back in the say??
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
part of a cast bronze riding stirrup bearing an ornamental plate in the form of a well-worn scallop shell. Form has given way to function, with its elongated shaped bearing a curious resemblance to a bishop’s mitre. The item was discovered at Clontuskert Abbey,
This one?
Fanning stirrup.jpg
 

Paladina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles et al (2018), Mozarabe and more (2019)
That's it!
 

Togabogie

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
It would have to be the santiago connection i would think!!
Tho ive done a few archeological digs in the north and one in the south i.e louth in a voluntary capacity and we were forever coming across oyster and scallop shells as this was the staple diet for many poor back in the day, but that still doesnt give reason to actually cast a bronze shell onto a stirrup!
So it must be the santiago connection
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
That's it!
The internet is marvellous tool ☺. The leader of the team that found the stirrup fragment during excavations in the 1970s writes this in the report published in the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy:

Stirrups, particularly those of bronze, are extremely rare finds on Irish sites. The exact form of the present specimen is difficult to determine as the foot-rest is missing, but the masking of the suspension loop is a feature of thirtheenth- and fourteenth-century stirrups. The scallop-shell is quite common on medieval objects and is normally associated with the cult of St. James of Compostella.
I see nothing there that says that the owner went to Compostella on horseback, let alone that he brought the stirrups back from Compostella. For starters, the cult of St James became popular throughout Europe, without everyone actually going to Santiago; at one point in time, scallop shells became associated with pilgrimage as such, not just pilgrimage to Santiago; scallop shells were also a strong symbol for the pilgrimage to Mont-Saint-Michel in Northern France, independently of Santiago. And then shells were just a popular motif for decorations, too. I have this recently published book about Irish pilgrimage to Santiago, I may have a look at it again.
 

Paladina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles et al (2018), Mozarabe and more (2019)
I have this recently published book about Irish pilgrimage to Santiago, I may have a look at it again.
Bernadette Cunningham's Medieval Irish Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela provides a treasury of information on all matters except the finding of stirrups with embossed scallop shells!
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Bernadette Cunningham's Medieval Irish Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela provides a treasury of information on all matters except the finding of stirrups with embossed scallop shells!
I was more thinking of reading up again on when and how pilgrims from Ireland went to Santiago. ☺

Scallop shells were also a motif in coats of arms, again without an automatic link to a pilgrimage to Saint James.
 

caminka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
Wandering around the Keepers of the Gael exhibition in Galway City Museum - a welcome refuge from the annual Christmas shopping spree - I spotted an unusual object on display: part of a cast bronze riding stirrup bearing an ornamental plate in the form of a well-worn scallop shell. Form has given way to function, with its elongated shaped bearing a curious resemblance to a bishop’s mitre. The item was discovered at Clontuskert Abbey, and the curator, who has dated it to the thirteenth or fourteenth century, surmises that its owner may have returned from a pilgrimage to Santiago. Although I’ve come across innumerable commemorative coins, medals, plaques, pins and badges, this is the first material evidence I’ve seen of a pilgrimage on horseback. Has anyone else come across something similar?
and I have another excuse to go browsing through archaeological catalogues here. though from the top of my head I don't remember any such lovely stirrups.

ps: could we perhaps have a history subforum of some kind? that would cover topis from prehistory to roman to medieval to let's say pre-second world war?
pps: I'm looking for this thread that mentiones roman progress through galicia via old celtic roads possibly marked by menhirs. without much success.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
could we perhaps have a history subforum of some kind? that would cover topis from prehistory to roman to medieval to let's say pre-second world war?
Yes, please, @ivar.

I'm looking for this thread that mentiones roman progress through galicia via old celtic roads possibly marked by menhirs. without much success.
Have you looked in the Invierno subforum?
My interest is hugely piqued, as I don't remember seeing this one, and it sounds right up my alley.

But there is this link, which was a gift from the gods, via @mspath :
Here is a link to an ongoing multilayered Swedish Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire and routes throughout Europe which you might find of interest.
I assume you've seen it @caminka , but bumping it for others who might have missed it. (Big time beware: don't go near the link unless you have serious rabbithole time.)
 
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caminka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
Have you looked in the Invierno subforum?
My interest is hugely piqued, as I don't remember seeing this one, and it sounds right up my alley.
I did now. there is no thread title that evokes a memory. I think it was a more general question so it's probably in miscellaneous forum. I tried the search engine, but nope.

But there is this link, which was a gift from the gods, via @mspath :
I assume you've seen it @caminka , but bumping it for others who might have missed it. (Big time beware: don't go near the link unless you have serious rabbithole time.)
it doesn't work for me. it may be just the library computer with not very updated processors.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
it doesn't work for me. it may be just the library computer with not very updated processors
A pity, because it's a fabulous site.
It worked for me last I went there...
 

Togabogie

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Just to add onto the convo..... many pilgrims dont realise or appreciate the historical importance of the camino i.e the local history of the places they are staying for the night!! I.e as only doing the frances once and going next year again to do a different route, i was too busy and too tired to even think about or appreciate the road or villages i was passing through in the historical sense, something i will appreciate more the next time hopefully with some research
 

caminka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
see signature
Just to add onto the convo..... many pilgrims dont realise or appreciate the historical importance of the camino i.e the local history of the places they are staying for the night!! I.e as only doing the frances once and going next year again to do a different route, i was too busy and too tired to even think about or appreciate the road or villages i was passing through in the historical sense, something i will appreciate more the next time hopefully with some research
one of the reasons I write my own guidebooks. I love medieval history (read: frescoes, portals, corbels, cute romanesque churches etc.) and dolmens (and co.) especially and I like to know where I have to detour to view them. research before going is just as important part of my camino experience as is being there and experiencing it.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2020)
ps: could we perhaps have a history subforum of some kind? that would cover topis from prehistory to roman to medieval to let's say pre-second world
I think that’s a great idea, too. I would vote for a combined art and history subforum. Because so much of the evidence of history is in the form of art or craft work. I’ve been really enjoying a few threads here about the historical objects, some of which qualify as art, and definitely as craft.
 

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