|Bell Shrine of St. Cuileáin|
Bell Shrine of St. Cuileáin
|Material||Iron and brass|
|Size||30 cm high|
|Created||7th-8th Centuries and 12th Centuries AD|
|Present location||British Museum, London|
The Bell Shrine of St. Cuileáin or Glankeen Bell is a mediaeval Irish bell shrine found near Borrisoleigh in County Tipperary, Ireland. Since 1854, it has been part of the British Museum's collection.
The bell shrine was made in a number of phases. The inner iron bell was made in the 7th or 8th centuries AD. The more elaborate outer case was produced in the early 12th centuries AD. The brass case is incomplete and would have originally been fronted by a bejewelled crucifix. The enamelled and niello inlaid crest of the outer case is decorated in the Ringerike style, which reflects the influence of the Vikings on contemporary fashion.
History of the Bell Shrine
The bell-shrine is said to have been made for the Glankeen Monastery, which was founded by Saint Cuileáin in the 7th century AD. Saint Cuileáin came from a powerful dynasty in mediaeval Ireland as his brother Cormac was Bishop of Cashel nearby. The bell-shrine was revered for centuries by the local population and is said to have been discovered inside a tree at Kilcuilawn near Glankeen in the early nineteenth century. It was purchased by the Anglo Irish antiquary T. L. Cooke, who in turn sold it to the British Museum in 1854.
Objects associated with holy saints and church leaders, such as this bell shrine, were venerated by the pious faithful for their miraculous powers and were an important feature of religious life in early medieval Ireland. Irish monasticism generally avoided dissecting the actual remains of its leaders for relics, but valued objects with which they had had close personal contact. In later periods these were often cased in an elaborate covering; cumdach is a term for books treated in this way. Early monastic leaders called their small communities together for the events of their daily routine by ringing a handbell. Revered for their divine intervention, water drank from the reliquaries was said to cure illnesses and bring good fortune. Other important bell shrines include St Patrick's Bell in the National Museum of Ireland  and St Conall Cael's Bell in the British Museum.
- F. Henry, Irish art during the Viking Invasions (London, Methuen, 1967)
- R. Ó Floinn, Irish shrines and reliquaries (National Museum of Ireland, Dublin, 1994)
- P. Harbison, The golden age of Irish art (London, Thames and Hudson, 1999)
- F. Henry, Irish art in the Romanesque period (London, Methuen, 1970)
- M. Bagnoli, H. Klein, C. G. Mann and J. Robinson, Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe (London, British Museum Press, 2011)