Most early ecclesiastical sites in Ireland were characterised by a separation
between the main congregational church and the principal reliquary focus.
It is argued that this reflects the fact that they were often initially founded as
ecclesiastical settlements, and that cemeteries were usually a secondary
development. Translation only occurred at a minority of sites, but even then
the separation between liturgical space and reliquary space was usually
maintained by placing corporeal relics in outdoor stone shrines or in metal
reliquaries housed in diminutive shrine chapels built over the original
gravesite. In this regard, Irish clerics of the eighth and ninth centuries seem
to have imitated Early Christian memoriae, perhaps especially the aedicule
in Jerusalem, rather than contemporary relic-cults in Francia or England. It
is suggested that they had indigenous reasons for doing this including the
particularly close link in Ireland between the development of the cult of
relics and the concept of the Christian cemetery.