Volume 3: York and East Yorkshire
Search Result: Sherburn 01, Eastern Yorkshire


National Grid Reference of Place of Discovery
Present Location
Built into south wall of chancel, outside, set horizontally above plinth
Evidence for Discovery
First recorded in 1911; left in situ during restoration of church in 1910 (Collingwood 1911a, 273)
Stone Type
Bioturbated, medium-grained, pinkish-white to strong brown (7.5YR 8/2–4/6) sandstone; deltaic
Present Condition
Worn, especially on one edge; partly obscured by lichen, and by a fall-pipe
Church Dedication
St Hilda

Only one face is visible.

A (?broad): There is a double plain edge moulding; the outer one may once have been cable. The double moulding forms a swag and immediately below it the inner moulding of the lower half of the shaft crosses the face, clinging to the swag. The upper panel contains interlace using broad median-incised strands; at the base the pattern has a bar terminal bent to the curve of the swag, linked to what is probably a four-strand plain plait; the other terminals are included U-bends.

Below the swag are two roughly cut human figures, the feet of one upon the head of the other. The upper figure is full length and frontal, wearing an ankle-length robe with a V-neck. The flat feet are splayed. Collingwood's drawing needs minor correction: the sides of the garment are straight and the V-neck has a border forming a roughly incised saltire. Across the waist is a faint, incised line. The face is wedge-shaped and worn, with eyes and nose in one line, and the neck is distinct. There is no halo or hair-line (contra Collingwood 1911a, fig. q on 274). The right arm is thin and bent upwards at the elbow to touch a bird on the right shoulder. The left arm may have been raised. There are two small pellets behind the bird's head and possibly another between it and the human head.

The figure below is truncated at the waist, owing to the dressing of the stone. The right arm hangs by the side, whilst the other is akimbo. The facial features are like the other figure's, and a row of rough pellets (hair?) on the forehead is still visible. Little is to be seen of Collingwood's halo (ibid.); perhaps at the extreme left? The neck is noticeable.


This shaft is of the 'round-shaft derivative' type, though the swag is produced simply by particular handling of the edge mouldings, the surface remaining quite flat. The interlace panel within the swag is reminiscent of a shaft at Gilling West in the North Riding (Collingwood 1907, 322, fig. m on 323). The figure carving below, however, is most unusual, only one round-shaft, at Brailsford in Derbyshire, sharing the placing of the figures (Collingwood 1923, 3). At Kirklevington (North Riding), a figure in robe and cap has a pair of birds perching on his shoulders (Cramp and Lang 1977, no. 12), its identity as obscure as the man on this stone. Other shafts at Sherburn have iconographic links with the Leeds Parish Church shaft, West Riding, which has as one of its lowest panels a standing figure with a single bird on his shoulder. Whether it be Óðinn, Weland, or simply a secular portrait, the Leeds figure is likely to have provided the model, in the light of the other Leeds influences at Sherburn (Lang 1976; McGuire and Clark 1987).

The carving of the human heads differs from the usual habit of contracting the neck by concealing it with a pointed chin or beard, for example, in the Middleton manner; the necks are stiff and prominent at the present site.

Tenth to eleventh century
Collingwood 1911a, 273–4, fig. q on 274; Collingwood 1912a, 131; Lang 1976, 91; McGuire and Clark 1987, 37, fig. 45; Lang 1989, 6