Volume 3: York and East Yorkshire
Search Result: Sherburn 09, Eastern Yorkshire


National Grid Reference of Place of Discovery
Present Location
Church tower, inside
Evidence for Discovery
See no. 2.
Stone Type
Coarse-grained, very pale brown (10YR 8/4) sandstone; see no. 1.
Present Condition
Face D and part of A broken away; the carving fairly crisp
Church Dedication
St Hilda

Only the upper face of the slab carries decoration. Along the long side a narrow cable moulding lies on the face of the stone, not on the corner. Within it is a double cable moulding which returns along the base, where its two strands are locked by three oval elements with median-incised strands, which form a buckle-knot. There are traces of another buckle knot on the corner.

Running up the centre of the slab, and once tapering, is a wide strip with contoured edging. Between this and the cable mouldings the panel is tightly filled with a run of interlaced ribbon beasts, their bodies contoured into three equal strips. The body splits at one point and at another there is a flattened crest to the strand, touching the edge of the panel. The beasts have small heads with nose-folds and elliptical eyes; there are no feet or legs, but there is a wedge-shaped tail. The interlaced bodies terminate in a pointed loop.

B and C (long side and end): Plain.

D and E (end and long side): Broken away.


Zoomorphically decorated grave-covers were fashionable in the earliest phase of the Anglo-Scandinavian cemetery under York Minster (Pattison 1973, 211 ff.), where they also carried a superimposed cross dividing the face into panels. None of the York animals, however, is a ribbon beast, and the broad stem of the cross at Sherburn (Collingwood?s reconstruction is convincing) is much wider than in the York sculpture. This appears to be a copy of the York Metropolitan School slabs, even to picking up the detail of the animal?s nose-fold. The buckle knot is found on pieces at Kirkdale (nos. 4–5; Ills. 542, 548), and at Pickering (no. 3; Ill. 759), and is often thought to be an eleventh-century feature, though its juxtaposition here with the Jellinge-style ribbon beasts throws this in doubt. The stumpy crest on one of the ribbon bodies is typical of colonial Viking and mainstream Scandinavian styles, being found on two crosses at Braddan in the Isle of Man (Cubbon 1971, 38–9) as well as on some of the Oseberg wood carvings; hence, it is a feature which recurs throughout the Viking period and does not serve as a dating criterion.

Tenth century
Collingwood 1911a, 274, fig. r; Collingwood 1912a, 131; Collingwood 1927, 133–4; Lang 1989, 3