Tucked away on two tiny islands in Northern Ireland – Boa Island and White Island – are a series of ancient anthropomorphic figures that are regarded as the most enigmatic and remarkable stone figures in Ireland. Resembling pagan deities but sometimes depicted with Christian symbols, the mysterious statues reflect a fusion of the two religions.
The carved statues are typically referred to as Janus figures because the primary example on Boa island has two faces, resembling the Roman two-headed deity Janus, although they were not actually intended to resemble Janus.
White Island is an island in Lough Erne, a lake in Northern Ireland. It is known for its ancient church, built in the 12th century, and the enigmatic Janus figures that were hidden within the walls of the church when it was built.
These figures are a series of six statues which were built in a very early style, suggesting Celtic influences. They were made about 350 years before the church was built, sometime in the 9th century AD. It is possible that these statues represent the work of early Celtic craftsmen who had recently converted to Christianity and continued to use their native art style.