A sun cross, solar cross, or wheel cross, a cross inside a circle, is frequently found in the symbolism of prehistoric cultures, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods. The actual significance of these symbols in the prehistoric period is not known, but from their ubiquity and apparent importance the symbols have been adopted in various schools of Neopaganism, esotericism and occultism.
Bronze Age Europe
In the prehistoric religion of Bronze Age Europe, crosses in circles appear frequently on artifacts identified as cult items, for example the "miniature standard" with an amber inlay that shows a cross shape when held against the light, dating to the Nordic Bronze Age, held at the National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen. The Bronze Age symbol has also been connected with the spoked chariot wheel, which at the time was four-spoked (compare the Linear B ideogram 243 "wheel" 𐃏). This technological innovation, invented by the late Proto-Indo-Europeans reached Europe in the mid-2nd millennium BC. In the context of a culture that celebrated the Sun chariot, it may also have had a "solar" connotation. This symbol appears also on the Snoldelev stone.
Iron Age and classical antiquity
In astronomy, the same symbol is used to represent the Earth, rather than the Sun. It is used and recognized officially by various professional scientific organizations, such as NASA,  and the United States Naval Observatory (USNO).
It can be depicted in Unicode as U+2295 (globe with equator and a meridian).
In Wicca and other Neopagan religions the sun cross most commonly represents the sun and the four quadrants the wheel of the year, i.e. the four seasonal cycles of the year. Some Neopagans use this symbol to represent their faith.
The Norwegian Nazi party Nasjonal Samling used a golden sun cross on a red background as its official symbol; the far-right Bulgarian Ratniks used it as a party emblem too. Various white nationalist and Neo-Nazi groups use the sun cross; the Knights Party also uses it in their official flag.
Other "cross in a circle" symbols
- pecked cross: A comparable symbol from ancient Mesoamerica is known as the "pecked cross" (two concentric circles centered on orthogonal axes). It is mostly interpreted in terms of archaeoastronomy and the Mesoamerican calendar.
- In astrology, the cross in a circle represents the planet Earth, formerly believed to be the center of the cosmos in Classical times.
- Exclusive or
- Direct sum
- Celtic cross
- entry at the Nebra sky disk exhibition site (landesmuseum-fuer-vorgeschichte-halle.de)
- Snoldevel stone's photograph depicted in arild-hauge.com.
- Anthony F. Aveni, Horst Hartung, Beth Buckingham, 'The Pecked Cross Symbol in Ancient Mesoamerica', Science 20 October 1978: Vol. 202 no. 4365 pp. 267-286 DOI: 10.1126/science.202.4365.267
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sun crosses.|
- Symbolism of sun cross (symbols.com)