Griffin Murray

Dr. Griffin Murray

Dr Griffin Murray (BA, MA, MBS, PhD) is a graduate of UCC, where he completed his doctoral thesis in 2007 on ‘The Cross of Cong and Church Metalwork from Romanesque Ireland’. He has also studied at postgraduate level at both the University of Copenhagen and UCLA.

After graduating he worked in the museum sector, in both the National Museum of Ireland and Kerry County Museum, in the area of collections. Between 2012 and 2014 he undertook an Irish Research Council funded post-doctoral research project on Irish and Scottish medieval crosiers in the Department of Archaeology. He has been a member of council, vice-president for Munster, and book-reviews editor for the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. Dr Murray is the current president of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, having previously been editor of that society’s journal, as well as a member of council.

Dr Murray lectures on the MA in Museum Studies programme.

Insular Crosiers: Power And Devotion in the Middle Ages

Dr Murray was an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology 2012-2014. Details of his research are outlined below:

This project was the first detailed study of the largest and most important extant corpus of early-medieval crosiers from Western Europe. The corpus consists of at least sixty individual crosiers dating from around the seventh to the twelfth centuries, comprising complete examples and fragments that survive from Ireland (50) and Scotland (5), and Insular fragments recovered from Viking-age contexts in Scandinavia (5). The corpus outnumbers, by far, the crosiers on record from the rest of Western Europe, particularly those dating from before the year 1000. Indeed, there are none surviving in England or Wales from before this date. Thus, this corpus is of major international importance.

Insular crosiers are conservative in form and are distinguished by a short vertical drop at the end of their crook. While they are admired today for their artistry, the corpus remains unpublished and their significance for their medieval audiences has never been investigated. Our understanding of them at present is almost entirely reliant on nineteenth-century scholarship.

In this project I examined the crosiers under four main themes: chronology, primary function, uses and meanings, and European context.

By analysing the complete corpus, and exploring questions relating to the primary functions, uses, meanings and European context of the crosiers, this project will make a significant contribution to medieval studies and in particular to the study of the medieval Church in Europe. As a result of this project, the study of Insular crosiers will be put on a much firmer footing, thus, establishing these objects in their rightful place in scholarship as one of the most important corpuses of Church metalwork surviving from early-medieval Europe.

Crosier Griffin Murray



  • The Cross of Cong: a Masterpiece of Medieval Irish Art. Irish Academic Press in association with the National Museum of Ireland, 2014. Hardback, pp 360, 220 col. Illus.
    Grant aided by: the National University of Ireland’s Publications Committee, College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Science, UCC, & Department of Archaeology, UCC

Edited Books

  • The Medieval Treasures of County Kerry. Kerry County Museum, Tralee, 2010. Paperback, pp. 96.
    Grant aided by: Heritage Council.

Edited Journals

  • Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, vol. 121 (2016), pp 172 + 8 pages of col. illus.
  • Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society vol. 120 (2015), pp 176 + 8 pages of col. illus.
  • Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society vol. 119 – Robert Day Centenary Issue (2014), pp 176 + 8 pages of col. illus. Supported by a subvention from the National Museum of Ireland.
  • Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society vol. 118 (2013), vol. 118 (2013), pp 160.

Papers (Peer Reviewed)

  • (with Aina Margrethe Heen-Pettersen) ‘An Insular Reliquary from Melhus: the significance of Insular ecclesiastical material in early Viking-Age Norway’ Medieval Archaeology 62:1 (2018), in press.
  • ‘Insular crosiers: an independent tradition?’ in C.  Newman, M. Mannion & F. Gavin (eds) Islands in a Global Context: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Insular Art. Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2017, pp 167-77.
  • ‘The Bearnán Chúláin bell-shrine from Glenkeen, Co. Tipperary: an archaeological and historical analysis’ Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society 121 (2016), 19-27.
  • ‘Christian Missionaries or Viking Raiders? Insular Crosier Fragments in Scandinavia’ in O. Owen, V. Turner & D. Waugh (eds) Proceedings of the 17th Viking Congress, Shetland 2013. Shetland Heritage Publications, Shetland, 2016, pp 173-79.
  • ‘Insular Crosiers from Viking-Age Scandinavia’ Acta Archaeologica 86 (2015), 96-121.
  • ‘The art of politics: the Cross of Cong and the Hiberno-Urnes style’ in H.B. Clarke & R. Johnson (eds) Before and after the battle of Clontarf: The Vikings in Ireland and beyond. Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2015, 416-437.
  • ‘The Breac Maodhóg: a unique Irish medieval reliquary’ in B. Scott and W. Nolan (eds) Cavan History and Society. Geography Publications, Dublin, 2014, 83-125.
  • ‘Irish Church Metalwork of the Romanesque period from the Day collection’ Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society vol. 119 (2014), 111-122.
  • ‘The establishment of Tuam as an archdiocesan capital in the twelfth century’ in A. Tierney (ed.) Glimpses of Tuam through the centuries: proceedings of a seminar 28th September 2013. Old Tuam Society, Tuam, 2014, 13-23.
  • ‘Church metalwork and craftsmen in early medieval Ireland’ in J. Hawkes (ed.) Making Histories: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Insular Art. Paul Watkins, Stamford, 2013, 162-173.
  • ‘Irish Crucifixion Plaques: a reassessment’ in J. Mullins, J. Ní Ghrádaigh & R. Hawtree (eds) Envisioning Christ on the Cross in the Early Medieval West. Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2013, 286-317.
  • ‘The Cross of Cong’ entry in C. Hourihane (ed.) The Grove Encyclopedia of Medieval Art. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2012.
  • ‘Fragments from composite copper-alloy objects’ in G. Eogan Excavations at Knowth: the medieval phase. Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, 2012, pp. 533-50.
  • ‘The Crosier of the O’Brady’s’ Breifne 47 (2012), 420-40.
  • ‘Altars in Ireland, 1050-1200: A Survey’ Journal of Irish Archaeology 19 (2011), 101-112.
  • ‘The Aghadoe and River Laune crosiers’ in G. Murray (ed.) The Medieval Treasures of County Kerry. Kerry County Museum, Tralee, 2010, pp. 45-60.
  • ‘A zoomorphic penannular brooch from Tullahennell North, Co. Kerry’ North Munster Antiquarian Journal 50 (2010), 15-27.
  • ‘An ancient paddle from near Knocknagashel’ Journal of the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society 9 (2009), 32-35.
  • ‘The provenance of the county Antrim crosier’ Ulster Journal of Archaeology 67 (2008), 112-117.
  • ‘Insular-type crosiers: their construction and characteristics’ in R. Moss (ed.) Making and Meaning in Insular Art: proceedings of the fifth international Conference on Insular Art. Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2007, pp. 79-94.
  • ‘Joseph Cooper Walker’s Account of the Discovery of the Cashel Crosier’ Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries 137 (2007), 146-49.
  • ‘The Cross of Cong and some aspects of goldsmithing in pre-Norman Ireland’ Historical Metallurgy 40:1 (2006), 49-67.
  • (with P. Ó Riain) ‘The Bann bell-shrine crest: a note on its provenance and inscription’ Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries 136 (2006), 170-72.
  • ‘A note on the provenance of the Breac Maodhóg’ Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 135 (2005), 136-38.
  • ‘The Arm-shaped Reliquary of St. Lachtin: Technique, Style and Significance’ in C. Hourihane (ed.) Irish Art Historical Studies in honour of Peter Harbison. Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2004, pp.141-64.
  • ‘Lost and Found: the eleventh figure on St. Manchan’s Shrine’ Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 133 (2003), 177-81.

Encycolpaedic Entry

  • ‘The Cross of Cong’ in C. Hourihane (ed.) The Grove Encyclopaedia of Medieval Art, vol. 2. Oxford University Press, 2012, pp 225-6.


  • (with P. Ó Riain) ‘The Prosperous Crosier and its Inscription’ Archaeology Ireland 31:1 (2017), 14-7.
  • ‘The Prosperous Crosier: An Ancient and Unique National Treasure’ The Clongownian 2013 (2013), 57-61.
  • ‘The Provenance of an Irish crucifixion plaque’ Archaeology Ireland 26:4 (Winter 2012), 31-2.
  • ‘Bells and Crosiers from County Kerry’ Kerry Magazine 22 (2012), 21-24.
  • ‘Curator’s choice: zoomorphic penannular brooch’ Irish Arts Review 28:3 (Autumn 2011), 142.
  • (with C. Ní Mhurchú) ‘The Edward Roe Collection’ The Kerry Magazine 21 (2011), 33-4.
  • ‘Risen from the Ashes: Early Christian Brooch Discovered near Ballylongford, County Kerry’ The Kerry Magazine21 (2011), 44.        
  • (with P. Ó Riain) ‘The Cross of Cong: some recent discoveries’ Archaeology Ireland 19:1 (2006), 18-21.
  • ‘The ‘hidden power’ of the Irish crosier’ Archaeology Ireland 17:4 (2004), 24-7.

Book Reviews

  • ‘The Cult of Relics in Early Medieval Ireland by Niamh Wycherley’ Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 146 (2016), in press.
  • 'Soldiers of Christ: The Knights Hospitaller and Knights Templar in Medieval Ireland ed. by M. Browne & C. Ó Clabaigh’ Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society 122 (2017), 150-52.
  • 'Archaeological Networks: Excavations on six gas pipelines in County Cork by Kerri Cleary’ Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society 120 (2015), 149-50.
  • 'Monuments and Monumentality across Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Proceedings of the 2011 Stirling Conference, ed. by Michael Penman’ Speculum 90:1 (2015)
  • 'Sacral geographies: saints, shrines, and territory in medieval Ireland by Karen E. Overbey’ Peritia 24-25 (2014), 375-380
  • Blarney Castle: An Irish Tower House by James Lyttleton’ Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society 118 (2013), 142-144.
  • The Viking Age: Ireland and the West by John Sheehan and Donnchadh Ó Corráin’ Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 141 (2011), 226-229.
  • The History and Archaeology of Glanworth Castle, Co. Cork: Excavations 1982-4 by Conleth Manning’ Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries 140 (2010), 112-3.
  • Creative Minds: Production, Manufacturing and Invention in Ancient Ireland by M. Stanley, E. Danaher and J. Eogan’ Ulster Journal of Archaeology 69 (2010), 191-2.
  • The Corpus of Late Celtic Hanging-Bowls by Rupert Bruce-Mitford’ Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries 137(2007), 167-169.

Reviews Editor

  • Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 141 (2011), 216-259.
  • Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 140 (2010), 99-113.
  • Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 139 (2009), 126-145.
  • Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 138 (2008), 163-170.
  • Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 137 (2007), 163-176.
  • Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 136 (2006), 185-204.

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