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CIIC 186. Kilfountain (CILL FHIONTAIN), Co. Kerry

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© 2016-04-18

© 2016-04-18

National Monuments Service Record Number: KE043-144005-

Site Type




Kilfountain/'Kilfountan Church and Calluragh burial ground/Teampall Fionntain: A roughly D-shaped or sub-oval enclosure within which are the remains of an oratory and a rectangular hut, a cross-inscribed ogham stone and a bullaun stone' (Cuppage 1986, 302). The cross-inscribed ogham stone is 'standing in a pile of quartz rubble to the east of the ruined oratory' (Okasha and Forsyth 2001, 161)


'Grit' (Macalister 1945, 179), 1.50m x 0.25m x 0.09m (Cuppage 1986, 302). 'The stone is a tall, slender pillar, roughly square in section, and tapering towards the base... Only the west face ... is decorated ... The upper part of this face contains an equal-armed cross set inside a circle; the cross has expanded terminals with the lower one joining on to the circle. Above the circle and joined to it by a small stem is a scrolled crest. Beneath the circle and separate from it is an elaborate design ending in a pelta motif. The design comprises a sunken field of inverted triangular shape with a concave upper edge. A short stem issues from its lower apex. At the left and right apices is a large incised oval with a pendant `string' looping to the outer edge of the stone. Also pendant from each apex is a line which runs down to form the pelta. In addition, two short lines curve upwards and outwards from the right oval towards the edge of the stone' (Okasha and Forsyth 2001, 162).

This is a so-called 'bilingual stone' with both an ogham inscription and an inscription in the Roman or Latin alphabet. Although bilingual ogham stones in both ogham (in Irish) and Roman letters (in Latin) are numerous in Wales and Devon and Cornwall, only a few examples (cf. CIIC 19. Colbinstown I, Co. Kildare) are known in Ireland (McManus 1991, 61). The ogham and Roman alphabet inscriptions on this stone appear to be unrelated and that 'an existing ogham stone appears to have been re-used as a cross-slab' (Okasha and Forsyth 2001, 163).


The ogham inscription is 'on the lower part of the south-east angle of the stone, reading upwards' (Okasha and Forsyth 2001, 162). Macalister (1945, 179) notes that the scores of this inscription are pocked. He adds that 'there is a wide space between the Q and the DD (4 1/2 inches), but it has only two notches in the middle and there never were any more'. The suggestion by Cuppage (1986, 304) and others that the I-scores have disappeared since Macalister's day is supported by the 3d data. 'There are traces of of what may be further letters before the E and at the top of the pillar but these are highly uncertain' (Okasha and Forsyth 2001, 163).

The second inscription is in half-uncial script and, along with the cross and design above it, was described by Macalister as cut, rather than pocked like the ogham scores. Cuppage (1986, 304) noted that only one line of text is visible beneath the design and reads upwards: [F]INTEN. However, Macalister (1945, 179) has two lines of parallel text, the first reading down (SCI) and the second reading up (FINTEN): SANCTI FINTEN. He also notes 'the way in which the initial F is turned sideways as though to form a pivot on which the two lines of the inscription hinge'. There are now only traces of a possible SCI and not enough of the F to be sure of its orientation.


Ogham: [  ̣  ̣ ?   ̣  ̣]EQỌDD[I   ̣  ̣ ?   ̣  ̣]
Half-uncial: [SCI( )] F̣INTEN



  • What little remains of the ogham inscription would appear to correspond with another possible personal name on CIIC 129. Cooldorragha, Co. Cork (VEQOANAI MAQI EQOD[...) (Macalister 1945, 127-8). EQODD[I] ech 'horse'? (McManus 1991, 122).

  • 'The spelling Finten for the later Fintan is consevative and implies a comparatively early date, perhaps seventh- or early eighth century... While it is possible that a later reading of the text may have inspired the dedication of Kilfountain/Cill Fionntain, it is more likely that the text is a dedicatory one, recording the donation or dedication of the site to the eponymous saint, although to which of the many St Fintans is not known'. A comparable case would be the stone probably inscribed SCI BRECANI, also in half-uncial, at Kilbrecan, Aran Mór (Okasha and Forsyth 2001, 163-4).



Standing at the site, probably in the same position it is in today, in the townland of Kilfountain and barony of Corkaguiney. (GPS coordinates -10.306496, 52.157768)


Find location probably original site

Last Recorded

The stone is standing in a pile of quartz rubble to the east of the ruined oratory National Monuments Service Historic Environment viewer on www.archaeology.ie.

History of Recording

The stone was first recorded by Windele in September 1848 (Okasha and Forsyth 2001, 161). It was last recorded for the Ogham in 3D project in 2016 by Emmy Van Den Berg, a participant on the Corca Dhuibhne 3d project, using Structure from Motion 3d technology (photographs also by Emmy).


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