Gosforth Cross

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Gosforth Cross, view from the north west
Gosforth Cross outside St Mary's church in Gosforth. From the SW

The Gosforth Cross is a large stone Anglo-Saxon cross in St Mary's churchyard at Gosforth in the English county of Cumbria. Formerly part of the kingdom of Northumbria, the area was settled by Scandinavians some time in either the 9th or 10th century. The cross itself dates to the first half of the 10th century.

Description[edit]

The Gosforth Cross has elaborate carvings which have been interpreted as representing characters and scenes from Norse mythology. The Gosforth Cross was first identified in 1886 by the amateur antiquarian Charles Arundel Parker in his book The Ancient Crosses at Gosford and Cumberland. He demonstrated that the cross showed scenes described in the Poetic Edda.[1] Those include images identified as:

The cross also has Christian symbolism, including a depiction of the crucifixion of Christ. The combination of Christian and Norse pagan symbolism on the cross may be evidence of the use of pagan stories to illustrate Christian teachings.[1]

The cross is 4.4 metres tall and made out of red sandstone. It is estimated to date from 920-950 and is still in fairly good condition. The importance of the Gosforth Cross (as well as the Irton Cross) caused the Victoria and Albert Museum to have replicas made in 1882.[2] They are on display in the Cast Hall at the museum. In 1887, the Rev. William Slater Calverley commissioned a replica life-sized copy of this cross and erected it in the churchyard at Aspatria, Cumbria.[3]

The church also has important hogback tombs, and what appears to be a fragment of another cross, showing the god Thor fishing.

Galleries[edit]

The following images are photographs published by Finnur Jónsson in Goðafræði Norðmanna og Íslendinga eftir Heimildum in 1913. The identifications of the figures are those suggested by Jónsson in 1913.

Other Images

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Bailey (1996:86-90).
  2. ^ See link to V&A site [1]
  3. ^ Calverley and Collingwood (1899), p.139-167

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°25′10″N 3°25′54″W / 54.41934°N 3.43165°W / 54.41934; -3.43165