Object Type: Part of trapezoid cross-base, -head and -shaft, in four pieces. Restored with missing pieces replace
Measurements: Total height as reconstructed: 366 cm (144 in)
Stone: Medium-grained, massive sandstone
Plate numbers in printed volume: Pls. 1.1-2, 2.3-4, 3.5-7, 4.8-11, 5.12-13, 5.14-15
Corpus volume reference: Vol 1 p. 37 - 40
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Only one horizontal arm of the-cross-head survives. It seems to be type A9 and is surrounded by an outer cable and fine inner roll moulding. On the end of the arm large deep pellets are contained within the moulding.
A (broad): On the head, part of a winged and haloed figure possibly holding a book. The shaft is bordered by a wide outer cable and fine inner roll moulding. (1) The inner roll moulding develops into a round-headed arch. Two three-quarter length figures are set closely together, the one on the right slightly overlapping that on the left. Both are frontal and slightly turned. The figure on the left is certainly winged and the right-hand one may be also. The former holds its right hand, with three long fingers extended, across its chest and the shoulder of the right-hand figure. It has a sharply dished halo. Its hair is shoulder length and curls up to meet the halo (Introduction, p. 21), and is bound with a fillet. The face is well modelled and youthful. It is dressed in an under-garment having long tight sleeves with embroidered cuffs and an over-garment draped like a shawl across the shoulders and edged with embroidered bindings. The drapery folds are deep and angular. This angel apparently shelters the right-hand figure behind its left wing. The right-hand figure appears to be female. She has a sharply dished halo and long hair bound with a fillet. Her hair merges into the edge of her over-mantle. She holds a trilobed rod in her left hand. Her undergarment is very similar to that of the angel, but her over-garment is more cloak-like. (ii) In the centre is a frontal figure bound to a cross. There are two inscriptions, probably in Latin, both in Anglo-Saxon capitals:(a) (end of upper arm of cross):
(b) (end of left horizontal arm of cross):
The figure is haloed, has curling shoulder-length hair and a long beard. He is bound with cords which cross his chest and bind his arms behind those of the cross. He is draped beneath the bindings and the drapery is knotted at the waist. On the left behind the cross is a haloed figure of the same type (save for the wings) as the one immediately above. His right hand with all fingers extended is held across his chest. The drapery is indicated by closely packed ribbing. One fold of drapery falls over his right arm. Below the lower part of this figure is another, part of whose head and one hand only survive. It is possible that the hand holds up a squarish object which may possibly be attached to the ropes which bind the central figure. Alternatively, given the large hands of the other figures on this cross, the `object' may simply be part of the clenched fist of the figure, as suggested by Coatsworth (1979, 123). Coatsworth (ibid.) also thought that this figure was in the act of piercing the side of the crucifixus with with a lance, but his fist may simply be grasping one end of the rope binding the latter to the cross. On the right of the panel are .the remains of the halo and face of another figure. What is left of the hair-dressing appears very similar to that of the female figure immediately above. (iii) In the bottom left-hand corner a small fragment of the cabled border, probably the bottom of ii.
The base has an inner roll moulding and a wide outer flat-band moulding which is very much broader at the bottom. This face contains three three-quarter length figures. The central figure is frontally posed, those on either side turn slightly towards him, their grotesquely elongated fingers overlapping his body. The figure on the left seems to disappear behind the central figure, that on the right is slightly in front. All three have dished haloes that straighten out at the base to join the shoulders. The figure on the left has the same youthful beardless face, the same hair and drapery style as the left-hand figure at the top of the shaft. However, the over-garment with its embroidered edges is conceived rather like a tabard or chasuble with V-shaped neck, and the horizontal folds seem more meaningful than the looped folds of the angel above. The central figure is also beardless and youthful but has close-cut hair, possibly a tonsure, and rather protruding ears. He carries a book with a jewelled cover in his draped left hand and the two first fingers of his right hand extend across his chest. He wears an under-garment with a round embroidered neck and tight sleeves, and an over-garment draped across his shoulders and over his right arm. The figure on the right may be female, since, although the stone is worn, the hairstyle resembles that of the female figure above. Her dress is similar to that of the central figure, save that her overgarment is draped over her left hand.
B (narrow): On the head, the carving is not decipherable. On the shaft, parts of three volutes of a simple inhabited scroll survive. The scroll is leafless, except for the small rounded scooped leaves which spring from each node. The stems are median incised. (i) The lower part of a quadruped survives, facing right. Its legs cross under and over the strands of the volute and its three-toed feet are placed one above the other. Its pelt is suggested by short irregular nicks. (ii) A bird with parrot-like beak faces left and pecks at a triangular veined leaf. Its stiffly extended legs cross over and under the plant strands and its clawed feet are placed one above the other. The volute also passes through the tail feathers. Its body feathers are suggested by scallops. (iii) A quadruped faces right with its head turned back to bite at a triangular leaf. The volute strands pass between its legs, and its feet are placed one above the other. The creature has a canine head with a pointed ear, bumpy forehead, squared-off Jaws and a back-pointed eye. Its pelt is suggested by long irregular lines.
Only the left-hand side of the base survives, and it is very worn. It seems to show a three-quarter length figure, possibly winged. In style of hair and dress he is like the central figure on face A. He appears to have the first two fingers of his right hand extended.
C (broad):- Nothing survives on the head or the base, and on the shaft only one and a half panels remain, divided by a cable and roll moulding. (1) Two figures of identical, type are half-turned and so closely positioned as to form one composition. They have haloes which merge together; each has a shaven or tonsured head and long beard. One holds a scroll in his right hand, the other in his left, and their over-garments are indicated by triangular or closely packed vertical and horizontal folds. (ii) The head and shoulders of two worn ,and broken figures merge into one composition with hands and haloes touching. They are of the youthful type of the central figure on the base of face A. (iii) In the bottom right-hand corner an indecipherable fragment, probably the bottom of ii.
D (narrow): Nothing survives on the head.
On the shaft, the lower portion of an inhabited scroll survives. It has the same general characteristics as that on face B, save that each volute terminates in a berry bunch. At the top right is a claw, presumably of a bird facing right. (i) A quadruped faces left, its head back-turned to bite at a berry bunch. Its stiffly extended legs straddle the volute, as on face B. It has a rounded canine head with a pointed ear and frog-like jaws. Its eye is rounded and backpointed. Its pelt is indicated by deep irregular lines and it has a collared neck. (ii) A bird faces right, its head back-turned reaching to a berry bunch. Its feet straddle the volute, which passes between its wing and tail. It has a rounded parrot-like head with backpointed eye, collar, and scalloped wings. (iii) A quadruped identical with that on i. (iv) Standing on the foot of the scroll and reaching up with an arrow to iii is an archer. He is three-quarter turned and his head is bent back, looking upwards. He wears a cap and has very closely cut hair. He seems to wear an ankle-length tunic with tight sleeves. The details of his face are more distinct than any other figure on this cross. He has large almond eyes and a curling moustache. With his right hand he pulls back the bow-string. His left hand is behind the bow where the fingers position the arrow.
Half only of the base survives. Part of a three-quarter length figure holds up his left hand with the first two fingers extended in blessing. The drapery and the face have a rather unfinished appearance. His face is of the youthful beardless type and his head is clearly tonsured in the Petrine manner.
The general scheme of this cross links it with the Northumbrian tradition: the possible Evangelist symbols on the head, the panels of figural ornament on the broad, and the inhabited scroll on the narrow faces, are like Otley, Yorkshire, Ruthwell and Rothbury but the pairs and triplets of saints, apostles or patriarchs belong to another tradition. The panels of face A have been the most fully discussed. The uppermost panel has been identified by Kurth as Ecclesia with an accompanying angel (Kurth 1943). Certainly the female is carrying a rod of authority and the mode of dressing her hair like that of the angel could suggest an east Christian model. However, there are depictions of the Virgin with symbols other than the distaff or a flower (e.g. at Breedon, Leicestershire, she carries a book: Cramp 1977, 210, fig. 58A). It is possible, therefore, that this is an Annunciation scene, such as is found on the Genoels-Elderen diptych (Beckwith 1972, pl. 15). In the intimate depiction of the figures, which is typical of this carver, the angelic rod has been taken by Mary.
The unusual rope-bound crucifixion below could be that of Christ or St Andrew, both of which have been suggested. If the crucifixion were that of Christ, the haloed figures would then depict Mary on the right and John on the left, and below a figure possibly of the lance-bearer, which must originally have been balanced by a similar figure on the lower right (see no. 2, p. 40). Kendrick (1938, 142) suggested that the rope-bound figure is of Syrian origin. Coatsworth (1979, 123-7) considered the scene in the light of the robed Christ in western European and, more specifically, in Insular art. She concluded that all details save the arms bound behind the bar of the cross could fit with the iconography of the Crucifixion of Christ. The pose in which the arms are hidden, although usually that of the thieves who can accompany Christ's Crucifixion, she considers may have been dictated here by the space available on the shaft.
If one could be certain that the lower left-hand figure on this panel was intended to be the lance-bearer, then there would be little doubt that this scene is the Crucifixion of Christ. Moreover, the interpretation of the scene as the Passion of Christ has the merit of linking the panel with the sequence of Marian scenes: thus there is the Annunciation above, and possibly the figures of the apostles and Mary at the Ascension below on the base. The block-like feature beside the upturned head could conceivably even be another head and so part of a crowd scene, rather than the clenched fist of the lance-bearer, as Coatsworth suggests. On the other hand, this figure seems more likely to be grasping the end of a rope than a lance, and would then be in the act of binding the crucifixus to the cross; rather than piercing his side.
The iconography, then, is ambivalent. It is not incompatible with the Crucifixion of Christ, but neither does it necessarily imply it. The alternative interpretation, that this scene represents the martyrdom of St Andrew, therefore deserves serious consideration.
The death of St Andrew is described in the apocryphal Acts of the Apostles (James 1924, 357-63) in a text which was current in western Europe by the sixth century. This records his martyrdom by being bound to the cross on the order of the pro-consul Aegeates. However, as Coatsworth (1979, 125-7) points out, the iconography of the scene here differs from the earliest depictions elsewhere in western art in the mid ninth century. That Andrew was bound to the cross is noted in the Acts as an unusual form of crucifixion, and Andrew himself specifically relates his passion to Christ's. Andrew is supported at his death by the wife and brother of Aegeates, Maximilla and Stratocles, just as Christ is supported by Mary and John. But the male and female figures behind the crucified figure on this cross are haloed and so unlikely to be the apocryphal pair.
The incomplete inscriptions PAS and AND are scarcely less ambivalent than the iconography. It is generally accepted that AND is a contraction of ANDREAS (Collingwood 1927, 39, followed by Okasha 1971, 54). PAS has also been read as a contraction of a proper name: either PAULINUS (Collingwood 1916-18, 37) or PAULUS (Collingwood 1927, 39; Okasha 1971, 54). But neither of these seems likely on purely epigraphical grounds, since neither inscription bears any discernible mark of contraction. PAS has been otherwise interpreted as being a part of the verb pati (to suffer) or its cognates. Hodgson (1899, 28-39), Hodges (1905, 217-18) and Brown (1937, 196) all suggested PASSUS EST; while Browne (1885b, 158-9) suggested PASSIO CHRISTI or CHRISTUS PASSUS. But this line of approach is still not without its epigraphical difficulties, since the last portions of the inscription presumably filled the other two extremities of the cross, and so can hardly have been any longer than the two extant parts. Moreover, all these scholars interpret the scene as the Crucifixion of Christ, which leaves unresolved the problem of explaining the juxtaposition of a Crucifixion with the figure of Andrew (or, for that matter, of Paul or Paulinus).
The hypotheses tentatively put forward by Coatsworth (1979, 124) that the inscription originally read PASSIO ANDREAS is much more attractive, both from the epigraphical and iconographical point of view, though the genitive ANDREAE is more likely on grammatical grounds. The suggested completion would fit neatly on to the terminals of the lost arms of the cross:
The rope-bound crucifixus and the evidence of the inscriptions both strongly support the interpretation of this scene as the crucifixion of Andrew, though the identity of the upper two figures remains uncertain. The ambivalence of the iconography should not be allowed to prejudice the latter interpretation however: if the iconography of Andrew's passion were modelled on that of Christ, just as his death itself was, then similarities between the depictions of these two events is only to be expected. Possibly the Anglo-Saxon viewer was meant to see both significances.
The style of drapery of the figures and indeed the total iconography of the cross remind one of midland carvings, in particular Bradbourne, Derbyshire (Cramp 1977, 219). Nevertheless, some stylistic comparison can be made with Rothbury in that there is the same perspective treatment of figural groups here in the figures standing behind the cross, and at Rothbury in the crowd scene (pl. 214,1221). Moreover, figures on both crosses have their hair bound with a `Byzantine? fillet.
The animal types, with their collars and body patterning, also reflect Mercian taste, as do the parrot-like birds, for instance, Cropthorne, Worcestershire, Acton Beauchamp, Herefordshire, and Gloucester (Cramp 1977, fig. 61). The ungainly posture whereby the legs of the creatures protrude stiffly through the volutes of the scroll are paralleled at York and the type develops further at Escomb (no. 1). The archer standing at the base of the scroll and shooting into it is found in the Peak District at Sheffield, Bradbourne and Bakewell, but this is the most dynamic and naturalistic carving of the subject to survive.
This cross seems therefore to reflect styles initially developed in the southern kingdoms which modified the Northumbrian tradition in the ninth century. It is the most impressive cross surviving from co. Durham and seems by its influence on later carvings such as Aycliffe 1 and Gainford 3, with their linked figures and hair merged with haloes, to have been admired and copied in the tenth century (Introduction, p. 21). The half and three-quarter length figure types seem to have become popular in manuscripts and sculpture around 800 as seen at Otley and Easby, Yorkshire, and Hoddom, Dumfriesshire, or in the Stockholm Codex Aureus fol. 9v, while pairs or groups of bearded and beardless figures are found on many midland carvings of the same period (Cramp 1977, 207-10). The shallow closely packed vertical and horizontal folds of the drapery and even the elongated fingers of the figures are found at Breedon. Here, and at Peterborough, the figure of Mary is also prominent (Cramp 1977, fig. 58). This cross can therefore be seen as reflecting southern English fashions in iconography and style.