The question of whether the Irish High Crosses were colored is one that has yet to be fully explored, or may never be definitively answered. The color that has been applied to these computer enhanced images are, therefore, highly conjectural. Intense scholarly examination has revealed that other works of art and architecture, which were previously thought to be pristine white, were in fact quite colorful. The Greek marble temples, for example, are known to have displayed blue, green, red and gold colors. The color is thought to have enhanced the optical experience of the building and to highlight the architectural sculpture. Small scale works of art, such as Byzantine and Western ivories were also once brilliantly pigmented and decorated with gold leaf. Considering that other works of art contemporary to the Irish High Crosses were created to show a brilliant display of color, it seems reasonable to suggest that the crosses would also conform to current fashion and taste.
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|Moone Cross||Ahenny Cross|
The colors were chosen from two illuminated manuscripts: the late seventh-century Book of Durrow (Dublin, Trinity College Library, MS A.4.5) and the Book of Lindesfarne (London, British Library, Cotton MS Nero D.iv) made about 698 CE. Insular illuminated manuscripts generally display a palette similar to metalwork. Blues, greens, reds, and yellows were the principal colors. The colors were placed to highlight the figures and to enhance the decorative patterns.