Irish Life and Cultures – Silver Crozier

18 Sep

The museum item that caught my attention was a set of silver croziers. It caught my attention because its shaped like a staff and thus presented a lot of mystery to me as to its use. Seeing as it is just a big stick after all, I was curious as to how this could’ve influenced early Irish life. Secondly, its silver material was further intriguing to me as I have a fascination for valuable metals.

I think this object represents perfectly the period known as the “Silver Age” in early Ireland. Most important, it shows how trade made its way into Ireland and how precious metals could be transported international. Furthermore, its religious connection demonstrates how early Irish people viewed religion. Because of its size and most likely high value, I can conclude that church was a big part of Irish livelihood and thus the crozier was a symbol of power and strength. The fact that inscriptions of royal patrons and important churchmen were found on the crozier concludes that this artifact was as important a political statement as it was a religious one.

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In comparison to similar silver artifacts in the museum, it adds to a collection of religious artifacts that further proves the value and importance of church to early Irish people. Similar silver artifacts also represent the access to silver that the Irish people had. Thus silver might’ve been seen as a material of great value and class in the 11th and 12th centuries. This means that the crozier and other artifacts were specifically used by authority figures to demonstrate the power or control they had. In the same vicinity of the silver crozier was a large silver cross which further supported my thinking that items made of silver represented meaningful symbols to the early Irish people.

However, I still had one question as to how the person holding a silver crozier was viewed by society. This puzzled me because while the artifact might be very symbolic and important to the Irish people, the fact that it was made of silver might’ve represented a big divide between the upper class and the lower class. Therefore, I was conflicted in my thinking of whether or not this artifact served more as a symbol of religion or as a symbol of divide in the Irish community. Although I was not able to find an answer to this question anywhere, I believe the artifact meant more to the people as a source of religious guidance than an object that divided the people.

– Philip Sypolt

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