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The Crux Gemmata and Shifting Significances of the Cross in Insular Art
Geseah ic þæt fuse beacen
wendan wædum ond bleom; hwilum hit wæs mid wætan bestemed,
beswyled mid swates gange, hwilum mid since gegyrwed.1
‘I observed the urgent portent shift its coverings and its hues; at times it was soaked with wetness, drenched by the coursing of blood, at times adorned with treasure’.2
This image of the triumphant jewelled cross, alternately gleaming with blood and treasure, from the Anglo-Saxon poem ‘The Dream of the Rood’ has often been juxtaposed with various artefacts from early medieval Britain.3 Elizabeth Coatsworth suggests a parallel between the ‘blood, gold, and jewels’ of the poet’s dream-rood and the gold and garnet cross of St Cuthbert.4 Indeed, several metalwork crosses and brooches bear similarities in their decoration to the crux gemmata of the poem, as do monumental stone crosses and miniatures in gospel manuscripts. As we investigate these forms of media and the significances of their designs, we see that the concept of the crux gemmata has transcended its own materials and that its preciousness may lie outside the value of its golden and jewelled decoration. However, like light playing over the surface of the dreamer’s rood, interpretations of these artefacts are many-faceted, and are likely to shift and change hues according to the vantage point of the viewer. This paper will investigate the various ‘identities’ represented by the sign of the cross and, through surveying crosses in Anglo-Saxon metalwork, stone sculpture, and manuscripts, will demonstrate how these identities are signified by the design and numerical and colour symbolism of these artefacts.
Identities of the Cross
The figure of the cross, whether in poetic or material format, simultaneously recalls the True Cross upon which Christ was crucified at Golgotha, the Cross in Majesty that will appear alongside Christ on the Day of Judgment, and the Tree of Life that grew at the centre of Paradise. These threefold meanings often reside in combination in early medieval art. Twirling vines inhabited by birds and animals signify the Tree of Life, as on the east and west faces of the Ruthwell Cross (Dumfriesshire).5 The True Cross is evoked by the image of a cross on a hill or stepped base, seen on a ninth-century carving on the east face of the North Sandbach Cross (Cheshire),6 and in the mid sixth-century apse mosaic in S Apollinare, Ravenna.7 Finally, the cross that will appear as a portent on the Day of Judgment is depicted as a crux gemmata — a jewel-encrusted cross.8 The mosaic at Ravenna also portrays this identity of the cross, with the portent encircled by stars and placed directly under a half-image of Christ in Majesty and the evangelists as apocalyptic beasts. Thus, in these various media, as well as in the literature of the early medieval period, resides ‘the same complex meaning, linking past, present, and future, earth and heaven’.9
Crosses in Metalwork
Even in just one form — the crux gemmata — the other identities of the cross can be discerned. Among jewelled crosses, patterns emerge in the colour, number, and arrangement of gems that suggest more than a simple evocation of the cross of the Apocalypse. We can begin to observe these patterns in St Cuthbert’s Pectoral Cross, as well as other jewelled crosses of the Anglo-Saxon period. Dating from the second half of the seventh century, the equal-armed pendant is composed of gold, garnet, glass, and white shell. Its gemstone decoration consists of a large round garnet in the centre of the cross, flanked by four semi-circular stone insets (only one of which still contains a stone) in the cups between the cross-arms (see here).10
Webster points to ‘the early seventh-century garnet-inlaid pendant crosses represented by those from Wilton and Ixworth’, as well as seventh-century composite brooches as antecedents to the St Cuthbert Cross.11 The Ixworth Cross, also dating from the mid seventh-century, is equal-armed and composed entirely of gold and garnet (see here). Unlike the St Cuthbert Cross, Ixworth’s arms are composed of more complicated stepped, T-shaped, and rectangular cloisonné cells, but its centre features ‘a large multi-stepped cell enclosed by four garnets forming the eye of the cross’.12 Thus, while the shapes of the two cross-centres differ, their materials and numbers of dominant stones are comparable. The seventh-century Wilton Cross also features arms of intricate garnet cells, but has a roundel coin at its centre. The coin, a solidus of Heraclius, directly evokes the True Cross, with its image of a cross on a stepped base.13
The pieces mentioned above are also comparable to the cross-shapes in seventh-century composite brooches. The Canterbury pendant features an obvious central cross design set in a round frame. Like the St Cuthbert Cross, its centre is dominated by a round, raised garnet boss, this time cut into four cells surrounding a central stepped cell. The placement of the cross arms is ambiguous; the viewer could choose to see a cross shape turned 45 degrees from the top, with semi-circles of cloisonné inlay at the ends of the cross arms. Alternately, one could view the empty cells between these garnet semi-circles as the arms of the cross, as these wide spaces may originally have been inlaid with a contrasting material.14
The disc brooch from Kingston Down, Kent, offers further variations on the cross motif. Two possible crosses are discernable in the design of the brooch (see here). The gold composite piece contains a central boss of white shell encasing cloisonné garnet and blue glass cells. Four straight arms of blue glass and cloisonné cells radiate out from this centre, interrupted by four lozenge-shaped garnets. Turning the brooch at a 45 degree angle, however, provides a second cross, this time with the arms indicated by four large eye-like cloisonné bosses.15
Several themes emerge among these pendants and brooches: the prevalence of red garnets, groupings of four or five stones, and placement of eye-catching stones or bosses at the ends of arms or in arm-cups. To make a final comparison, we look to the Rupertus Cross, a large standing cross of eighth-century Anglo-Saxon origin, possibly ‘conceived as a crux gemmata’.16 The elaborate decoration of this free-standing cross includes thirty-eight settings for glass insets, as well as inhabited vine-scrolls on each arm of the cross head.17 Presently the cross features no garnet, but since only nine of the original thirty-eight stones survive, it is possible that the original design did incorporate garnet or other red stones. Additionally, these insets are generally in groups of five; the five largest insets occur at the centre and at the end of each arm of the cross. These stones are in turn each flanked by four smaller insets, creating five more sets of five.
The designs of these insular jewelled crosses seem to function in distinct ways as compared to other representations of the crux gemmata. Early Christian mosaics, such as the fifth-century Christ in Majesty apse mosaic in S Pudenziana, Rome, and the previously mentioned S Apollinare mosaic, show the cross in two of its guises: jewelled, signifying the cross of the Apocalypse; and perched on a base or a hill, signifying the True Cross at Golgotha. The jewels identify the cross of the Apocalypse, but beyond that, they function as pure decoration. In these mosaics, the jewelled crosses are accompanied by representations of Christ in Majesty and the four evangelists as apocalyptic beasts, which place the cross in its religious context. The narratives of the mosaics feature a variety of apocalyptic images, only one of which is the jewelled cross, in order to evoke the full meaning of the Day of Judgment.
The Crux Gemmata in Other Media
Conversely, in Insular media such as metalwork, stone, and manuscripts, the specific number, placement, and colour of jewels must resonate with these meanings, often without the aid of additional images. The significance of these aspects of design is proven by how often such patterns appear in various media. Decorations in Insular metalwork were frequently translated to appear as skeumorphs on numerous monumental stone crosses.18 Referring to the Sandbach crosses, Hawkes points specifically to circular ‘pellets’ appearing on almost every cross-face, as possible skeumorph nails mimicked from a metal artefact, ‘but which, having no functional purpose in a stone medium, have become a distinctive decorative motif’.19 Bailey sees further parallels between the checkerboard panel on the Bewcastle Cross and enamel millefiori decoration; between carved birds and animals and similar creatures in gold filigree work.20
Moreover, apertures found on monumental crosses suggest that metalwork and glass insets were actually incorporated into the designs of these stones.21 Specifically, Bailey points to drilled holes in the eyes of figures on the Rothbury and Ilkley monuments, suggesting that they were originally filled with metal, paste, or glass.22 Bailey suggests that metalicized stone crosses intentionally mimicked traditional depictions of the cross of the Apocalypse.23 Hawkes points to a more immediate physical inspiration for the monuments: ‘the smaller, but still impressive and brilliantly glittering gem-encrusted metalwork crosses’.24
Just as stone sculpture tended to mirror decoration in metalwork, so the pattern of four jewels surrounding a central roundel also appears in Insular monumental stone crosses, with jewels translated to large round bosses. Two eighth-century high crosses at Iona exemplify this trend. St Martin’s Cross includes five bosses on the cross-head, as well as groups of five smaller bosses in the same cross-shape arrangement on the cross shaft (see here).25 The decoration of St John’s Cross consists of five boss-shapes on the cross head, although the central and lowest ‘bosses’ are actually depressions in the stone, and therefore may have contained insets or relics of some type. Similarly, four bosses surrounding the central figure of Christ crucified and in Majesty appear on the east and west faces of the Cross of the Scriptures at Clonmacnoise, County Offaly (see here and here).
A comparable trend in the decoration of stone crosses occurs on the tenth-century Middleton Cross (East Yorkshire) (see here) and tenth to eleventh-century Addingham Cross (Cumbria).26 In each of these monuments, a central boss seemingly stands alone. However, gaps between the wheel-head and cross-arms form four semi-circular spaces around the central boss.27
Just as the influence of Insular metalwork is visible in stone sculpture, so it also appears in illuminated Insular manuscripts. Within the gospel pages, colours and patterns bear similarities to metalwork. Square and rectangular cells in the corners of the cross-carpet page introducing St Jerome’s letter to Pope Damascus in the Lindisfarne Gospels contain angular, stepped cells of varying colour.28 While these patterns are reminiscent of garnet-cell decoration in the cross-pendants and brooches, they are also particularly similar to the shoulder clasps from the Sutton Hoo hoard.29
Additionally, the page mentioned above shows a cross with square flares on its arm tips, a square base, and a tiny square in the centre of each larger square. In comparison, the cross-carpet page introducing St Matthew’s gospel shows a cross with a rounded centre and semi-circular flares and base (see here). Again, the centre of the base and each flare is marked by a small circle, this time filled in with multi-faceted coloured cells. In both pages, contrasting colours set off these tiny points against the busy backgrounds, ensuring that the eye is drawn to them. One is reminded of jewels set at the arm-ends of metalwork crosses, or possibly the ‘pellets’ of stone crosses.
Masons and illuminators may have adopted these decorative conventions into stone and paper media simply because they are so pervasive in metalwork. Additionally, because ‘jewellery and metalwork symbolize the highest achievement’ in Insular art, sculptors and illuminators ‘sought to express the importance of their work by invoking the prestige of another medium’.30 However, public art such as stone crosses stand alone in the open, and cannot depend on viewers’ familiarity with brooches or gospel books to illuminate the significances of their carvings. Therefore, these ‘distinctive decorative motifs’ must have acquired some significance in addition to a simple evocation of the material value of gems and metalwork.
Numerical and Spatial Symbolism
Geometrically speaking, ornamenting a cross with four evenly-spaced jewels (plus a central roundel), would produce a pleasing, symmetrical arrangement. However, viewers may also be reminded of religious associations with these numbers. One possibility is that groups of five ornaments signify the wounds of Christ, an interpretation which Bailey suggests for the bosses on the Irton Cross (Cumbria), and which Webster posits for ‘the quincunxes of glass roundels’ in the Rupertus Cross.31 This interpretation is certainly supported by the nail-like appearance of the ‘jewels’ in manuscript decoration. But with reference to the west face of the Clonmacnoise Cross of the Scriptures, in which four bosses surround Christ crucified, these bosses must represent something outside Christ’s body.
‘The Dream of the Rood’ provides a clue to another possible interpretation of the numbers and placement of these ornaments. As the portent appears, the poet describes ‘gimmas stodon / fægere æt folden sceatum; swylce þær fife wæron /uppe on þam eaxlegespanne’ [gems appeared at the corners of the earth; there were also five upon the crossbeam].32 Here, the five gems representing Christ’s wounds are separate from the second group of four. Hawkes, drawing on patristic commentaries, elucidates the significance of the four corners, or four cardinal points, of the earth. She quotes Alcuin’s commentary on Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, which describes ‘“the cross stretched out to all the four quarters of the world, east and west, north and south, because even so by his passion, Christ draws all people to him”’.33 Hawkes goes on to comment on the evangelists, ‘who recorded the [crucifixion] in their gospels, [and] guaranteed the spread of Christianity to the far ends of the earth’.34 In pictorial representations of the evangelists, ‘their arrangement round the cross signifies that that salvation embraces the entire world’.35
This new geographic layer of meaning of the cross, and the implication that the evangelists spread the gospels over the face of the earth, illuminate the design programmes of jewelled and monumental crosses. Bearing in mind that, conceptually, the cross-arms span to the ‘ends of the earth’, settings of four jewels or bosses on the cross-arms may signify the gospel writers who also, conceptually, have traveled to the ends of the earth. The Victoria and Albert Crucifix Reliquary lends visual support to this interpretation, with Christ and enamel portraits of the evangelists at its centre and arm-ends, respectively.36 In groups of five bosses, the central boss from which the arms of the cross radiate most likely alludes to Christ, as he is metaphorically the central figure of Christianity, but also visually, as he necessarily is the centre of every Crucifix.37
Yet we are left with pieces such as the St Cuthbert pectoral cross and the Middleton cross which feature a central ornament and four satellite ornaments placed in the arm-cups of the cross. To draw meaning from these arrangements, we may look to the designs of the ‘four evangelists’ pages in illuminated gospel books. These books tend to share a common design pattern for this particular page; the cross (with or without a central image of Christ) quarters the page, and in each arm-cup sits an evangelist symbol, sometimes winged.38 These depictions provide an even closer parallel to the pieces mentioned above, and prove that these works of metal and stone may also evoke the quartet of evangelists, with Christ at the centre.39 Regardless of the placement of jewels on arms or in cups, because all of these crosses evoke both the crux gemmata and the cosmological Tree of Life which grew in Eden and metaphorically encompasses the world, they announce the cross’s profound spiritual dimensions as well as ground it in the dimensions of the earth.
Another pattern intimately connected with the jewelled appearance of these crosses is the incidence of the colour red in decoration. Within the pieces of metalwork discussed, garnet often creates or adorns the cross shape against a gold or metal-composite background. In the St Cuthbert Cross, moreover, the colour red is so crucial that, where garnet is not used, red glass is substituted.40 Peter Kitson observes that inlaid garnets are the most prevalent gems found in Anglo-Saxon metal-work; after the eighth century, red continues to be the predominant colour in jewel-work.41
As testament to the significance of the colour red in cross decoration, Bailey argues that carved stones were often decorated in various shades of paint, and provides the examples of ‘eighth and ninth-century sculptures at Monkwearmouth […] and Ilkley […which] still carry traces of a red colouring’, and ‘a cross-head recently discovered at St Mary Castlegate, York, [which] seems to have had red paint laid on to a white gesso base’.42 Bailey concedes that red probably served as a primer for other colours.43 However, as stone crosses often imitated metalwork, red paint may have been used frequently in stone media to replicate red jewels.
The first interpretation of the colour red, in the context of a cross, is that it recalls the blood of Christ. Describing red stones in terms of blood appears often in Anglo-Saxon and classical descriptions and exegeses on precious stones. The Old English Lapidary, a tenth or eleventh-century amalgamation of Latin glosses of the stones of the Apocalypse, lists four of twelve stones as having a reddish hue:
Ðridde is calcedonius haten se ys byrnendum blacerne gelic […] Fyfta sardonix is haten se is blode licost […] Seofoða sardius haten se is luttran blode gelic […] Twelfta is carbunculus haten se is byrnende glede gelic.
[The third is called chalcedony. It is like a burning lantern […] The fifth is called sardonyx. It is most like blood […] The seventh is called sard. It is like clear blood […] The twelfth is called carbuncle. It is like a burning coal].44
Qui ex integro sanguinei colouris est, martyrum gloriam significant […] merito sexto loco positus, cum dominus noster et sexta aetate saeculi incarnatus, et sexta feria sit pro totius mundi salute crucifixus.
[which is entirely of blood-red colour, signifies the glory of martyrs […] and is with reason put in the sixth place, seeing that our Lord was incarnate in the six period of the age, and was crucified on the sixth day of the week for the salvation of the whole world].45
Bede’s exegesis provides two comparisons, the first directly likening the red stone sard to martyrs’ blood, while the second indirectly links sard and blood through the stone’s numerical equivalency to the day of the Crucifixion. Additionally, sard signifies Christ’s humanity—the earthly time frame encompassing his birth and death. Perhaps the strongest evidence for a direct link between red gems and blood comes from the Blickling Homilies, which say of Christ, ‘he sealde his þone readan gim, þæt wæs his þæt halige blod, mid þon he us gedyde dæl-nimende þæs heofonlican rices’ [‘and he gave his red gem, which was his holy blood, and thereby made us participators of the heavenly kingdom’].46 In these commentaries, we see the ‘red gem’ — be it sardonix, sardius, or even garnet — transcending its colour-based symbolism of blood. Red gems acquire a new level of preciousness in that they evoke not only the colour of actual blood shed by the human Christ on the cross, but also the preciousness of that blood, the divine Christ’s own ‘red gem’, which promises salvation to humanity.
Colour terminology in Anglo-Saxon texts may have been understood differently by its native speakers than by modern audiences. Building on W.E. Mead’s survey of colour in Anglo-Saxon writings, Nigel F. Barley suggests that Anglo-Saxons designated colour more in terms of brightness than of hue, a distinction which may change the meaning of the term ‘read’. Barley argues that ‘Old English “red” is not our red’ and points to the Anglo-Saxon use of the term ‘read’ to describe gold as evidence of a shift in meaning.47 Further, Barley argues that Anglo-Saxons probably perceived colours as inextricably attached to objects as opposed to abstract concepts of description. Taken together, these observations account for the Lapidary’s description of the colorful gems of the Apocalypse in terms of blood and fire. Too, the idea of color referring both to hue and brightness suggests an easy transition from a “bloody” surface to one shining with gold or jewels.
The jewel-encrusted red cross in Majesty which appears in ‘Christ in Judgment’, an Anglo-Saxon text describing the Day of Judgment, exemplifies the range of qualities that can be attributed to one colour term. In this poem, blood has a dual connotation of encompassing suffering and salvation; it is also described as precious, as it was the currency with which Christ bought humankind’s salvation. The portent of the cross is a reminder of this pact:
Heofoncyninges hlutran dreore […]
Þær he leoflice lifes ceapode,
Þeoden moncynne on þam dæge,
mid þy weorðe […] þæs he eftlean wile
þurh eorneste ealles gemonian,
ðonne sio reade rod ofer ealle
swegle scineð on þære sunnan gyld.
[With the pure blood of the King of heaven […] the Prince lovingly bought life for mankind on that day at that price […] For all this he will sternly demand repayment when the crimson cross shines brilliantly over all, instead of the sun’].48
The ‘crimson’ of the Cross in Majesty has a shining quality, yet the colour is not explicitly identified with blood or with jewels. In this case, both associations are relevant, and the ambiguity of the colour terminology allows the reader to locate both meanings in the poetic description. When applied to metalwork and stonework, this multiplicity of meanings for red jewels also evokes the many tiers of meaning in the cross. On one level, jewels on a cross are a direct reference to the crux gemmata, but beyond that, the colour and type of jewels employed also recall the cross as Crucifix and as apocalyptic portent, salvation through Christ’s blood and Judgment at the Apocalypse.
Descriptions of red stones in the Old English Lapidary are split between two associations: the aforementioned representation of blood, and an association with fire. As Mead has documented, fire in Anglo-Saxon texts can be described as red, suggesting a colour-related connection between the concepts of blood and fire.49 However, biblical commentary and Anglo-Saxon literature suggest that the two concepts are eschatologically connected. Victorinus’s commentary on the apocalyptic stones compares jasper with sard, the colours of which, respectively, symbolize Judgments ‘of which […] one is already completed in the deluge of water, and the other shall be completed by fire’.50 A similarly scouring vision is presented in a sermon for Easter Day from the Blickling Homilies, which promises ‘blodig regn & fyren fundiaþ þas eorþan to forswylgenne & to forbærnenne’ [‘a bloody and fiery rain shall endeavor to devour and consume this earth’].51 The close proximity of blood to fire in this warning is also found in the description of ‘se byrnenda grund & se blodiga stream’ [‘the burning ground and the bloody river’] from De Die Iudicii from the Vercelli Homilies.52 In his analysis of fire in Anglo-Saxon homilies and poetry, M. Bradford Bedingfield observes that fire often has a purifying and renewing purpose in an Apocalyptic context. Looking specifically at the poems Elene and Christ III, he argues that fire has the effect of transforming humans ‘into shining beings’; it is described as ‘cleansing, with the image of smelting gold’.53 While patristic and Anglo-Saxon texts express a shared cleansing purpose and a close textual proximity for blood and fire, we again find associations of preciousness for these concepts. Blood can be expressed symbolically through jewels; fire may carry an association with gold. Given the fact that some Anglo-Saxon texts describe gold and fire as ‘red’, it is also possible to understand a red jewel as symbolizing both Apocalyptic fire and blood.
The image of a cross covered in red stones which symbolize not only blood but also fire recalls an Anglo-Saxon riddle for ‘a timber cross’:
Ic eom lygbisig lace mid winde,
Wuldre bewunden wedre gesomnad,
Fus forðweges, fyre gemylted,
Bearu blowende, byrnende gled.
Ful oft mec gesiþas sendað æfter hondum,
þær mec weras ond wif wlonce gecyssað.
[I am concerned with fire, at play with the wind, spun about with glory, made one with the firmament, eager for the onward way, afflicted by burning, blossoming in the coppice, a burning ember. Very often comrades lay me across their hands so that proud men and women may kiss me].54
This riddle evokes the cross in myriad forms: a tree ‘concerned’ with fire and ‘playing in the wind’; a relic kissed by ‘proud men and women’; and the cross in Majesty, ‘made one with the firmament’. Unlocking this riddle further, however, we see that ‘fire’ may function here as more than a threat to a tree. These words suggest red (fire-coloured) jewels on the crux gemmata, giving it the appearance of an ‘ember’. Considering the affinity between Apocalyptic ‘blood’ and ‘fire’ in these texts, it is also possible that this riddle suggests a cross seared and made precious by the power of Christ’s blood. This concept of a ‘burning’ golden cross is easily seen in Insular metalwork crosses, as the play of light over gold and jewels brings to mind the colours and movement of flames. Additionally, the multiplicity of possible meanings for the colour red in Anglo-Saxon texts suggests that we might understand a ‘red’ cross as shining as though on fire as well.
Within this riddle, the juxtaposition of different identities of the cross — simultaneously playing with the wind and spun about with glory; burning and blossoming — conveys in enigmatic words what Insular metalwork, stonework, and manuscripts do in their materials. In literary and physical formats, these pieces link the various identities of the cross, illustrating the intimate relations between jewels, sacrifice, and Judgment, and the preciousness of all three.
We should not forget that the ornamented objects discussed would certainly have served the socio-economic function of denoting elite status. However, the fact that jewelled decoration could be evoked by means other than gold and garnets shows that the preciousness of the crux gemmata transcended material wealth. Adornment of the cross, through jewels, colours, and patterns, was valuable in the many meanings that it communicated. On one level, these decorations were physical manifestations of space and affluence, therefore impressive and communicative to any person. Yet they also signified the profundity and all-enveloping nature of the Christian faith through its symbol, the cross, connecting the Old Testament with the New, the beginning of time with the end, the human with the divine, and Christ’s sacrifice with humankind’s salvation.
Ilse Schweitzer, Western Michigan University
1. M. Swanton (ed.), The Dream of the Rood (Manchester, 1970), pp. 89-91.
2. Transl. S.A.J. Bradley, Anglo-Saxon Poetry (London, 1995), p. 160.
3. The Vercelli manuscipt, which contains ‘The Dream of the Rood’, has been dated to the 10th to 11th centuries, but the inscription on the Ruthwell Cross, dated to around 815, suggests that the poem, or a similar / shorter version, predates the manuscript. See E. Okasha, Hand-list of Anglo-Saxon Non-Runic Inscriptions (Cambridge, 1971), pp. 108-112.
4. E. Coatsworth, ‘The Pectoral Cross and Portable Altar from the Tomb of St Cuthbert’, in G. Bonner, et al. (eds.), St Cuthbert, his Cult and his Community (Woodbridge, 1989), p. 296. Coatsworth’s comparison of ‘The Dream of the Rood’ to St Cuthbert’s Cross was the first inspiration for this essay.
5. See Brendan Cassidy (ed.), The Ruthwell Cross. Index of Christian Art: Occasional Papers 1 (Princeton, NJ: 1992), plates 45, 46; also see here.
6. See Jane Hawkes, The Sandbach Crosses. Sign and Significance in Anglo-Saxon Sculpture (Dublin, 2002), p. 38; also see here.
7. See J. Beckwith, Early Christian and Byzantine Art 2nd ed. (London, 1979), p. 119.
8. The crux gemmata also recalls the gold and jewelled cross that Theodosius erected at Golgotha in 417, which was replaced by a silver cross by 620; see R.N. Bailey, England’s Earliest Sculptors (Toronto 1996), p. 46.
9. B.C. Raw, ‘The Dream of the Rood and its Connections with Early Christian Art’, Medium Aevum 39.3 (1970): 244-45.
10. Compare the late seventh to early eighth-century gold pectoral cross from Thurnham: R.L.S. Bruce-Mitford, ‘The Gold Cross from Thurnham, Kent’, The Antiquaries Journal 47 (1967), pp. 290-91.
11. L. Webster and J. Backhouse (eds.), The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon Art and Culture AD 600-900 (London 1991), p. 134; Coatsworth also acknowledges the relationship between the Ixworth, Wilton, and Cuthbert Crosses in ‘The Pectoral Cross’, pp. 290-296.
12. Webster, Making of England, p. 26.
13. Ibid., p. 27. For an image of the Ixworth Cross, see D.M. Wilson, Anglo-Saxon Art from the Seventh Century to the Norman Conquest (London, 1984), p. 24.
14. Webster, Making of England, p. 26.
15. Compare the Sarre brooch (Kent) in Webster, Making of England, pp. 48-49.
16. Webster, Making of England, p. 171. For an image of the Rupertus Cross, see James Campbell (ed.), The Anglo-Saxons (London, 1982/1991), p. 108.
17. Ibid., p. 170.
18. A skeumorph is a remnant of a functional piece (a nail, for example) which is no longer necessary and serves a decorative purpose. See Hawkes, Sandbach Crosses, pp. 136-147 and J. Hawkes, ‘Reading Stone’, in C. Karkov and F. Orton (eds.), Theorizing Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture (Morgantown, 2003), pp. 26-28.
19. Hawkes, Sandbach Crosses, p. 137; see also Hawkes, ‘Reading Stone,’ p. 27; Bailey, England’s Earliest Sculptors, p. 122.
20. Bailey, England’s Earliest Sculptors, p. 122. While my discussion focuses on connections between metalwork and stone sculpture, it is also probable that some design and decoration elements of stone crosses were derived from wooden crosses. Few pieces of wooden artwork survive from the Anglo-Saxon period (with the notable exception of the incised coffin of St Cuthbert), but written records suggest the existence of wooden crosses as precursors to stone crosses. Bede writes that Oswald erected a wooden cross at Heavenfield in 634, while Mac Lean compares this report to Adomnàn’s account of two wooden standing crosses at Iona, as well as the sixth to seventh-century wooden posts at Yeavering. Dodwell presents an account of the ‘Durham Crucifix’ ordered by the Anglo-Saxon earl Tostig and his wife Judith in the eleventh century as possibly made of wood. Wilson suggests that the cross set up by St Cuthbert in 687 at Farne could have been wooden. Certainly the item described in ‘Riddle 30b’ of the Exeter Book seems to be a wooden cross, indicating that such objects may have been commonplace in the Anglo-Saxon landscape. See Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Judith McClure and Roger Collins (eds.), (Oxford, 1994), p. 111; Douglas Mac Lean, ‘King Oswald’s Wooden Cross at Heavenfield in Context’, in Catherine E. Karkov, et al. (eds.), The Insular Tradition (Albany, NY, 1997), pp. 79-97; C.R. Dodwell, Anglo-Saxon Art: A New Perspective (Manchester, 1982), p. 119; D.M. Wilson, Anglo-Saxon Art from the Seventh Century to the Norman Conquest (London, 1986), p. 70.
21. Hawkes, Sandbach Crosses, p. 146; see also Hawkes, ‘Reading Stone’, p. 26; W.G. Collingwood, Northumbrian Crosses of the Pre-Norman Age (London, 1927), p. 49; Bailey, England’s Earliest Sculptors, pp. 7-9.
22. Bailey, England’s Earliest Sculptors, pp. 7-8.
23. Ibid., p. 123.
24. Hawkes, Sandbach Crosses, p. 147.
25. Compare arrangement of bosses on cross-head and cross-shaft on cross at Kildalton, Islay, Argyllshire: Wilson, Anglo-Saxon Art, p. 112; also east face of the ninth-century south cross at Clonmacnoise, County Offaly: P. Harbison, The Golden Age of Irish Art: The Medieval Achievement 600-1200 (London, 1998), p. 183.
26. See R. Cramp and R.N. Bailey (eds.), Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture, vol. 2: Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire-North-of-the-Sands (London 1988), plate 3.
27. Compare to ninth-century cross-slab in churchyard at Aberlemno, Forfar: Wilson, Anglo-Saxon Art, p. 115; also the ninth-century Fahan Mura cross-slab, County Donegal: Harbison, Golden Age of Irish Art, p. 49.
28. For an image of this carpet page, see J. Backhouse, The Lindisfarne Gospels (London, 1974).
29. See J. Campbell (ed.), The Anglo-Saxons (London, 1991), p. 77.
30. Bailey, England’s Earliest Sculptors, p. 124.
31. Ibid., p. 5; Webster, Making of England, p. 171.
32. Swanton, Dream of the Rood, p. 89; transl. Bradley, Anglo-Saxon Poetry, p. 160.
33. Hawkes, Sandbach Crosses, p. 45, cites J-P. Migne (ed.), De Divini Officiis, 18, Patrologia Cursus Completus, Series Latina (Paris, 1844-64), 101: 1208.
34. Hawkes, Sandbach Crosses, p. 45.
35. Hawkes, ‘Reading Stone’, p. 18.
36. For an image of the crucifix reliquary, see Campbell, The Anglo-Saxons, p. 183. See also Brussels Reliquary Cross: J. Backhouse et al. (eds.), The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art 966-1066 (London, 1984), pp. 90-92.
37. The Cross of the Scriptures at Clonmacnoise (figure 9) exemplifies this design programme.
38. See J.J.G. Alexander (ed.), Insular Manuscripts, 6th to 9th Century (London, 1978), plates 36, 38.
39. Compare another Kells Four Evangelists page, which shows the arrangement of cross and evangelist portraits turned 45 degrees from the top: Harbison, Golden Age of Irish Art, p. 114.
40. Coatsworth, ‘The Pectoral Cross’, p. 295; Coatsworth cites H. J. Plenderleith, ‘Examination of the Gem Stones in the Cuthbert Cross’, in C.F. Battiscombe, The Relics of Saint Cuthbert: studies by various authors (Oxford, 1956), pp. 542-4.
41. P. Kitson, ‘Lapidary Traditions in Anglo-Saxon England: part I, the background; the Old English Lapidary’, Anglo-Saxon England 7 (1978), p. 27.
42. R. N. Bailey, Viking Age Sculpture (London 1980), pp. 25-26.
43. Bailey, Viking Age Sculpture, p. 26; Bailey, England’s Earliest Sculptors, p. 6.
44. Kitson, ‘Lapidary Traditions I’, pp. 32-33.
45. ‘Bedae Presbyteri Expositio Apocalypseos’, ed. Roger Gryson, Corpus Christianorum Series Latina (Turnhout, Belgium, 2001), 121A: 543; transl. E. Marshall, The Explanation of the Apocalypse by Venerable Beda (London, 1878), p. 154; also cited in Kitson, ‘Lapidary Traditions II’, p. 88.
46. ‘Annunciatio S Mariae’ from The Blickling Homilies of the Tenth Century, ed. and trans. R. Morris, Early English Text Society (London, 1880), 58, 63, 73: 8-11.
47. Nigel F. Barley, ‘Old English colour classification: where do matters stand?’, Anglo-Saxon England 3 (1974), pp. 16-18. See also W.E. Mead, ‘Color in Old English Poetry’, Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 14.2 (1899), pp. 169-206; L.D. Lerner, ‘Colour Words in Anglo-Saxon’, Modern Language Review 46.2 (1951), pp. 246-249.
48. ‘Christ in Judgment’, ed. Bernard J. Muir, The Exeter Anthology of Old English Poetry (Exeter, 1994), I: 89-90; transl. Bradley, Anglo-Saxon Poetry, pp. 234-35.
49. Mead, ‘Color in Old English Poetry’, p. 195. Mead further suggests that fire may be described as red simply for an alliterative effect.
50. Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John, from the fourth chapter, accessed 7 December 2003; also cited in Kitson, ‘Lapidary Traditions II’, p. 76.
51. ‘Homily for Easter Day’ from The Blickling Homilies of the Tenth Century, ed. and trans. R. Morris, Early English Text Society (London, 1880), 58, 63, 73, accessed on Old English Corpus, 14 May 2006; translation from Albert S. Cook and Chauncey B. Tinker (eds.), Select Translations from Old English Prose (Boston, 1908), p. 201.
52. The Vercelli Homilies and Related Texts, ed. D.G. Scragg, Early English Text Society (London 1992) O.S. 300, p. 58; translation mine. For a similar wording, see ‘Untitled’ Vercelli Homily XXI from Scragg, p. 359.
53. M. Bradford Bedingfield, ‘Anglo-Saxons on Fire’, Journal of Theological Studies 52.2 (2001), pp. 658-677.
54. ‘Riddle 30b’, The Exeter Anthology, p. 355; transl. Bradley, Anglo-Saxon Poetry, p. 376.