Glendalough Graveyard Survey

Heritage Week in Glendalough
Courtesy of Historic Graves
Recording a gravemarker
Courtesy of Our Wicklow Heritage
Graveyard Survey Volunteers in Glendalough
Courtesy of the Heritage Council
With a little help from our friends
Courtesy of Abarta Heritage
Glendalough Graveyard

The graveyard in Glendalough..

is probably the second most famous graveyard in Ireland. There are a vast array of funerary monuments spread amongst one of the finest collections of medieval monastic buildings in Europe.

The graveyard became overcrowded

For many centuries people both local and distant, have come here to bury their dead. In the early twentieth century the graveyard became overcrowded and this led much friction between the authorities of the time and people hoping to inter relatives. That, however, is another story…

A large quadrangular enclosure

The graveyard in Glendalough is situated on a gentle S-facing slope between the Glendasan and Glenealo rivers. A large quadrangular enclosure (dims. 100m E-W; 110m N-S) defined by a modern wall and stony bank, now surrounds the cathedral, round tower and graveyard at Glendalough. An extension of the wall on the S side of the entrance divides off the N third of the graveyard. This enclosure may be superimposed on an earlier inner enclosure. The overall site is bounded at the N, E and S by rivers and apart from the general outline there is no clear W perimeter. This outer enclosure would have been at least 400m E-W.

The aim of this survey

During Heritage Week 2016, a full survey of the graveyard was begun, The aim of this survey was to map and record all the funerary monuments in this historic graveyard. A team of volunteers, led by the very capable John Tierney of Historic Graves, undertook this ambitious project. The project was organised by the Glendalough Heritage Forum, with the kind assistance of UCD Archaeology Dept. and funding was provided by the Heritage Council and Wicklow County Council.

Over 1400 grave monuments

In one week they managed to record a large portion of the gravemarkers in the monastic city area of the graveyard. This work continued during subsequent Heritage Weeks with the rest of the graveyard, including the new western extension, being fully mapped, photographed and recorded. Over 1400 grave monuments have now been surveyed and recorded.

Following the survey work in the graveyard, all the monument inscriptions were transcribed and entered into a database. The results of this monumental effort are now available to be perused on the Historic Graves website at and Glendalough can be directly accessed here.

The Reefert gravemarkers can be viewed here.

And the Temple-na-Skellig gravemarkers can be viewed here.

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