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| Codford St Peter Cross |
[344 x 600 jpg]
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|Description ||The carving is unweathered and could have been done yesterday - yet it is more than a thousand years old (9th century). The figure of a man seems to be dancing beneath a fruit laden tree. In his hand he carries a mallet or perhaps a rattle, but no one has been able to understand just what he is doing. The folds of his clothes are deep and positive with no sign or wear. This is a very remarkable carving and seems to depict the fruits of summer. Were there other images of the seasons that have now been lost?|
|This carving is so exquisite, so powerful and evocative. It is difficult to believe its age, given its remarkable condition. My imagination is on overdrive -- what a provocative, mysterious work of art !|
|Glad you like it Marilou! There is a whole world of strange Saxon, Viking and Pictish carvings hidden away on crosses and other stones in forgotten churches and churchyards. Often they seem much more Pagan than Christian. We hope to discover as many as we can.|
|A random thought: Where these are propped up against walls, are they concealing a similar carving on the back? I wouldn't suggest leaning the stone forward to take a peek (!!!!!), but...|
|Good point Templar, but no - there is no carving now on the back. The stone was split lengthwise and just a small piece of a carved cross remains on the back. It really is a mystery as the carving is much earlier than the church itself. It dates from the early 9th century or even earlier and was found when the Norman arch was demolished in 1864. It seems to show midsummer festivities. There are four young cones at the top and the man holds an alder branch while beneath his feet there are eels, fish and an otter. Also present are willow leaves and honeysuckle buds with one open flower. All of these plants and animals are wetland species suggesting midsummer in the extensive marshes of the Wylye valley. There is space for an inscription, but one was never made. This suggests that the carving was never finished and for some reason was kept for centuries until it was built into the Norman arch and hidden. Very strange!|
|I made a half-scale reproduction of this piece in 2000. Caused some interest after painting a cast using anglo-Saxon manuascripts as a colour guide. Amazing results although no possibility of authentication. The reconstruction is about 28" and weighs in at about 20lb. The most difficult part of the work was the photography but it was a rewarding piece to make. To mold still exists in perfect condition and may be a new, numbered production run could be arranged. Anyone interested?|
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