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| Gosforth Cross |
[800 x 400 jpg]
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|Description ||The west face has a single panel bordered by roll moulding within which are animal heads, and below which is a human figure holding a horizontal staff and a horn. Beneath this human figure there is a horseman shown upside down and holding a spear. At the bottom of the panel there is a human figure with arms and legs manacled. Around his neck is a cord which is knotted by a snake and above there is the kneeling figure of a woman holding out a bowl. The scene is associated with Scandinavian mythology; the human figure with staff and horn is the watchman god Heimdall with his Gjallarhorn, the bound human and adjacent woman at the foot of the panel are Loki and Sigyn, characters from medieval Scandinavian literary sources.|
The north face likewise has a single panel. At its top there is a vertical rod which terminates below in a beast's head. Eight wing-like features are attached to this rod by rings. Below the beast are two horsemen each gripping a spear, one set above the other with the lower one depicted upside down. The remainder of the panel is filled with interlace carving. As with the other faces, the north face depicts a scene from Scandinavian mythology; the winged beast being interpreted as Surt.
The east face depicts beasts heads, one of which has a human figure holding a spear at its jaw. The scene below is framed by cable moulding and contains the figure of the crucified Christ. A stream of blood runs from Christ's right side and nearby is the head and shaft of a spear gripped by a human figure. Adjacent is a female figure with trailing dress and knotted pigtail carrying a horn-like object. At the base of the frame are two beasts. (I find it difficult to distinguish the two beasts at the base of this panel, it suggests to me an image of Jormungandr (the Midgard Serpent), son of Loki who was cast into the sea and grew so large that he was able to encircle the earth and grasp his own tail. In Norse mythology Jormungandr was hunted by Thor, a theme of one of the scenes depicted on the hogback grave stones preserved within the church)
The south face has a single panel depicting interlace carving terminating in animal heads. Beneath is a horned deer and below this is a wolf or dog. Below this is a horseman grasping a spear and at the foot of the panel, beneath a strip of interlace, is an open-jawed creature. This scene also is associated with Scandinavian mythology; the horseman is Odin with Mimir below and the wolf Garm above.
(Descriptions taken from DEFRA Magic Map)
|Excellent coverage! Thanks for these clear pictures of such wonderful carvings. It's incredible that such a tall slender cross is still in one piece and the pagan carvings not defaced|
| Stylistically the detail on this cross is very similar to those in the moorlands of E Cheshire and NE Staffordshire. It also has strong similarities with the cross in St. Bridget's churcyard at Beckermet, about 8km away to the north of Gosforth|
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