Volume I: County Durham and Northumberland
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Current Display: Alnmouth, Northumberland Forward button Back button
Overview
Present Location
Museum of Antiquities, Newcastle upon Tyne, no. 1958.8. N
Evidence for Discovery
Discovered in 1789 by the Rev. J. Brand `near the ruins of the old church, commonly called Woden's church at Alemouth'. First moved to duke of Northumberland's collection at Alnwick Castle. Donated to Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1958.
Stone Type
Medium-grained, bedded yellow sandstone
Present Condition
Damaged and worn in places
Description

The shaft is edged by single flat-band mouldings and is panelled on all faces. On the top of face A and between the panels of ornament on faces B and C are wider flat-band mouldings carrying inscriptions. Those on faces A and B are in Anglo-Saxon capitals. Their language is uncertain. That on face C is in Old English, and uses Anglo-Saxon capitals and runes. If the blank panels on face D ever carried inscriptions, all traces have now vanished. The existing inscriptions read:

(a) Face A:

[-V-1

(b) Face B, upper:

[SAV

There was probably a second line, now completely broken off.

(c) Face B, lower: [.A]DV LFESD

(d) Face C: M[Y]REDaH-MEH-wO The last two letters presumably formed the first part of the word worhte, so the whole line may then be translated `Myredah made me.'

A (broad): A Crucifixion scene. A flat-band moulding which overlaps the frame at the top carries an inscription The figure of Christ is frontal and stands upright on suppedaneum; his arms are outstretched to the available limits and his thumb and fingers are extended. The face is mutilated; the head is nimbed with a plain nimbus. The legs are bare, but it is impossible to see if there was loin-cloth. One either side of the head are the sun and moon; the moon(?) on the right has the appearance of features. The upper arm of the cross is not visible, but the other arms are straight and rectangular, A1. Below the crossarms are two figures. Very little detail survives but both appear to be facing right and both wear short tunics and are bare-legged. Below their feet are two other sidefacing figures, both clasping long poles. The figure on the left is upward-looking; the pole in his hands seems to terminate in a point under Christ's right arm. He is bearded, wears a short tunic, and since his legs are not modelled like that of the figure above, may have some form of leg covering. Only the hands and tunic of the figure on the right are clear. The top of his pole may end with a cup-like feature. (These figures are, then, the sponge- and cup-bearer, Longinus and Stephaton.)

On the cross-shaft between the two lower figures and beneath the suppedaneum are two tiny panels of interlace. The top panel appears to be in two registers and is a ten cord pattern - pattern c with outside strands. The lower has the remains of three registers of spiralled Pattern n, and is a twelve-cord pattern.

B (narrow): Panels of interlace and key pattern divided by inscriptions. (i) Damaged but plain. (ii) A single register of pattern c with outside strands, a form of ring-knot. (iii) Inscription. (iv) Two registers of turned pattern A. (V) Inscription. (vi) Part of a key pattern (Allen 1903, no. 996) surrounded by a narrow flat-band moulding.

C (broad): The partial remains of two interlace panels divided by a flat-band moulding, carrying an inscription. (i) A complex, closed circuit surrounded pattern F with outside strands and a central twist: a sixteen-cord pattern. Only two registers survive but there were originally four. The terminals have combined E and F loops. (ii) Inscription. This could have continued on a band below. (iii) A panel with two full registers of turned pattern A with an added diagonal: a twelve-cord pattern.

D (narrow): (i) Plain. (ii) A key pattern (Allen 1903, no. 996) surrounded by a narrow flat-band moulding. (iii) Two plain panels enclosing two registers of turned pattern A.

Discussion

This cross is clearly linked with Lindisfarne in its layout, in including some plain panels, in the use of key patterns and in the types of interlace patterns. There is also at Lindisfarne, in the two crosses which have figural panels (Lindisfarne 3 and 8), a marked stylistic likeness to the short-skirted figures with lumpy legs. The competence of the interlace designs and the modelled style of the strands is shared by some later Durham work in the revived Lindisfarne tradition (Introduction, p. 32). However, the parallels between the ornament of this piece and Lindisfarne and Chester-le-Street, together with its use of inscriptions, put it more suitably in the late ninth to early tenth century.

Date
Late ninth to early tenth century
References
Brand 1792, 472, pl. xxxvi; Richardson 1843, 324 and fig.; Dickson 1852, chap. 3, no pagination; Haigh 1856-7, 509; Haigh 1857, 173-4, 185-6 and fig. facing 192; Tate 1866, 39-40, fig. facing 39; Stephens 1866-7, xxviii; Stuart 1867, 65-6, pl. cxvii; Stephens 1867-8, 461-2, fig. on 461; Evans 1873, 333; Haigh 1876, 32; Bruce 1880, 69-71, figs. on 69; Smith and Cheetham 1880, 1979; Browne 1880-4b, lxxv; Stephens 1884a, 441; Stephens 1884b, 156, 256, and fig. on 156; Allen and Browne 1885, 343, 351; Sweet 1885, 127; Allen 1887, 156; Allen 1889, 207, 211, 213, 221; Bugge 1891-1903, 150; Hodges 1893, 82-3; Payne 1893, 113; Bateson 1895, 489-90 and figs.; Viétor 1895, 18 note; Browne 1897, 288; Stevens 1904, 50; Howorth 1917, II, 222; Collingwood 1927, 62, 101, fig. 79; Reil 1930, 113 note; Arntz 1938, 89; Dickins and Ross 1940; Kendrick 1941b, 4; Kendrick 1949, 58; Wise and Ross 1953-4, 25; Marquardt 1961, 9-10; Page 1964, 68; Page 1969, 34; Okasha 1971, 47-8, pl. 2A-C; Page 1973, 30, 35, 134, 136, 153, 157-8; Adcock 1974, 262-71, pls. 123, 125, 127A-B, 129A-B; Coatsworth 1977, 198-201, pl. 18; Coatsworth 1979, I, 209-13, II, 4-5, pl. 84; Cramp and Miket 1982, no. 30

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