Glendalough, St Mary

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Feature Sets (2)


A two-cell church. The nave is pre-Romanesque, its walls employing some very massive and well-dressed blocks of granite; the W door has inclined jambs with a cross carved on the soffit of the lintel; a false architrave is incised around the door. The chancel is a late 12thc addition. It is built of roughly coursed rubble, the masonry much inferior to that of the nave. The chancel arch has plain jambs, with chamfered plinths. The only sculpture is to be found on the exterior of the E window.


Exterior Features


E window

A narrow round-headed opening, with jambs of yellow oolite, almost certainly from Dundry. The outer edge is chamfered and there is a groove for glass. Five voussoirs form the window head. Two of the five stones forming the label are decorated with Greek key ornament (the other stones are plain). The label stops are carved as heads, said to be animal heads (according to Leask).

The rear arch is built of grey masonry. The jambs are plain with diagonal tooling. The arch has been rebuilt in rubble.


The nearest parallels for the Greek key ornament are to be found in the transepts of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (c. 1186–1200). The use of imported limestone for this work suggests a period after the Anglo-Norman invasion and a date of c. 1190 is therefore likely for the construction of the chancel of St Mary's.


  • Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, Official Historical and Descriptive Guide, Dublin, n.d., 14–16.

General view.


Site Location
Glendalough, St Mary
National Grid Reference
T 123 968 
now: Wicklow
medieval: Wicklow
medieval: St Mary
Type of building/monument
Church (ruin)  
Report authors
Roger Stalley