For centuries, the Ardagh Chalice has been considered one of Ireland’s premier art treasures.
Dating back to the 8th century, this distinctive silver, gold and bronze cup is an ancient Irish war treasure…its surface is beautifully ornamented with encrusted jewels, warrior shield symbols, and ornate Celtic spirals…
In 1868, two men were digging on land near Ardagh when they made an incredible discovery: instead of the simple potatoes they sought, they excavated a priceless relic – the Chalice itself.
Buried in a fort at Reerasta, Ireland, the cup was unearthed and then sold for a scant fifty pounds.
There are many theories as to why the chalice, along with other precious artifacts (such as a cross crafted of fine woods, another small chalice, and several brooches) were buried in this particular place.
Since they were covered in earth (without even cases to protect the master metalwork and woodwork from damage) many historians feel certain they were hidden in great haste, perhaps due to the rapid advancement of enemy forces.
How The Chalice Was Made…
This beautiful treasure, which is believed to have been created between 800-899 A.D., was crafted using a variety of techniques that give it rare dimension and rich beauty.
Expert enameling (often known as cloisonné), filigree work, and the use of cabochon jewels are accompanied by painstaking engraving and gilding.
Celtic symbols, such as careful, intricate interlace (or knot work) and spirals offer hypnotic beauty and deeper meaning (they are widely regarded as symbols of eternity and life-force).
As well, the names of the Apostles are engraved upon the bottom portion of the Chalice, as a testament of faith.
To truly appreciate the stunning details and master metal work of this special piece, one must see it up close. Today, the Ardagh Chalice rests at The National Museum of Ireland, where it remains one of the most popular pieces on display.
If a trip to Ireland isn’t in your plans, you can still find ways to enjoy the beauty of this seminal piece – today’s Celtic jewelry designs borrow the symbols and artistry of the Chalice, keeping its spirit alive for a new generation…
Today’s Ardagh Chalice-Inspired Celtic Jewelry Designs…
The warrior shield symbols found on the Ardagh Chalice are illustrations of strength, loyalty, and protection.
For today’s brides and grooms-to-be, rings adorned with these symbols offer a strong connection to their own Celtic heritage.
Crafted for men and women alike, these two-tone, 14k gold Celtic ring designs are gorgeous reinterpretations of the Ardagh Chalice.
Capturing the essence of masterful Celtic metal work (the Celts were revered worldwide for their skill in working with metals) they offer ornate engraving that closely resembles the scroll-work on the original piece.
For those with Celtic heritage, choosing a wedding band with the same symbols found on the Chalice can be a wonderful way to honor the past, and to enjoy the beauty and mastery of Celtic metal work in the present day.
Rings honoring the Chalice are also available in yellow gold; Celtic engagement rings that match the spirit of these new designs are often the perfect complement to a warrior shield Celtic wedding band.
Today’s brides often integrate their bridal jewelry into the theme of their wedding – Celtic wedding dresses or Irish wedding traditions may also be used to add a memorable touch to ceremonies, receptions, and wedding photos.
The spirit of the Ardagh Chalice remains in these beautiful showpieces, which are crafted by hand from the finest materials.
Created in the Emerald Isle, they offer authenticity and heirloom quality; they are designed to last a lifetime…