Irish Inscribed Stones Project

A corpus of Irish stone inscriptions

Outdoor cultural heritage monuments suffer greatly from the weathering process, and are at an ever-increasing risk of severe and permanent damage. This is especially so for monuments with carved inscriptions, since the inscriptions can be worn past recognition as a consequence of the weathering process and atmospheric pollution. For this reason the surviving records of Ireland’s past are constantly at risk.

The Irish Inscribed Stones Project draws on the technical expertise developed by the Foundations of Irish Culture Project based at NUI Galway by using the very latest, state-of-the art laser scanning technology to produce a corpus of all known Irish stone inscriptions in one single archive.

Clonmacnois project

‌Clonmacnois is the most important Early Christian site in Ireland — far more important than Armagh, and more impressive than all the others by virtue of its long history and the age and number of its surviving archaeological monuments. 

Chief amongst these are the churches and the round towers, and best-known of all, the famous high-crosses. But equally important —and far less well known — are the hundreds of inscribed stones that have survived there (c. 750 in total).

It is nearly a hundred years since these stones were last surveyed and described, in R. A. S. Macalister’s pioneering monograph, The Memorial Slabs of Clonmacnois (Dublin 1909). That book is now impossible to find, and no comparable study has ever been undertaken since then that incorporates all the new stones that have been discovered

You can now download 3D scans for 300 stones.


Principal investigator: Prof. Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, History (School of Humanities), National University of Ireland, Galway

Researchers: Dr Thierry Daubos (post-doc), Doireann Dennehy, Sander Westerhout (PhD researchers)

External advisers: Dr Elisabeth Okasha, Dr Orla Murphy, University College Cork


Paul McMahon, OPW, Senior Architect

Patrick Heraghty, OPW,  District Works Manager

John O'Brien, OPW, Architectural Technician

Tom Moore, Manager of Clonmacnoise Visitor Centre and his staff

Heather King, Dept of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government 

Prof. Mike Redfern, NUI Galway

Documentary clip

Dr Thierry Daubos and Prof. Dáibhí Ó Cróinín of the National University of Ireland, Galway, carry out 3D scanning at the National Museum of Ireland. The high cross is a cast taken from the Cross of the Scriptures at Clonmacnois.

Part of this video was originally broadcast in RTÉ's "Secret of Stones" series. The soundtrack is Maria McCool singing "Ar Éirinn Ní Neosfainn Cé Hí".

(Watch on YouTube or see this longer extract.)