Date: First half of the tenth century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): United Kingdom
Dimensions: Height of 4.42 m
Description: A freestanding stone cross at St. Mary's Church in the Village of Gosforth (Cumbria, England) offers evidence of the extensive Norse settlement in northern and eastern England from the late ninth to the mid-tenth century. Combinations of interlace, zoomorphic motifs, and religious imagery appear along the tapering shaft of this single piece of sandstone, which stands over 4 meters tall. The figural carvings draw from both Scandinavian and Christian sacred histories, among them the Christian Crucifixion and references to Ragnarök, namely a series of natural disasters and other events leading to the deaths of several gods in Norse mythology (e.g., Odin and his brother Loki). The representation of Yggsdrasil, a sacred tree from Norse cosmology that holds up the universe, may imply a deliberate parallel with the Christian cross as the Tree of Life.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 5
Repository and Online Resources: • Interact with an annotated 3D photogrammetric model of the Gosforth Cross by Professor Dominic Powlesland.
Image Credits: Adam S. Cohen; Wikimedia Commons
Tags: Christian, Northern European, Polytheist, Scandinavian, Connections to the past, Access to the sacred, Ideology, Animals, Bible