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Ireland, as it is seen in some of the Irish illuminations. The same device is found also on some of the stone carvings of the Anglo-Saxon period, in the so-called ' Celtic ornament.'?
But the use of the Chi Rho disappeared in Europe at the end of the fifth century, and the remains in England-excepting, of course, the late revival of its use on manuscripts referred to above—belong as a rule to British rather than to Anglo-Saxon Christianity. The emblem to which the AngloSaxons devoted their art was the cross.
(b) Monumental Crosses The most striking feature of the art of the cross-and, indeed, of all art among the Anglo-Saxons—is the monumental cross of stone.
Monumental crosses had been set up in public places in Rome before the mission of Augustine. But for the origin of the ornamented stone crosses of the Anglo-Saxon we turn, not to Rome, but to the ancient customs of the pagan Celts.
The most exhaustive study of these stone crosses that I have found has been made by Mr. J. R. Allen in the pages of the British Archæological Journal, and I have followed his authority wherever I have been unable to verify his conclusions for myself.
According to him, the origin of stone crosses of the Anglo-Saxon era may be traced back to the gigantic monoliths of the preceding Celtic period. These rough, unhewn obelisks were erected to commemorate chieftains—probably such as were slain in battle—and the value of the tribute lay in the great size of the stone and the consequent difficulty in raising it.
At a later period, when writing became known, the rough pillar was inscribed, in oghams, or in debased Latin characters, on a smooth side of the stone. After the introduction of Christianity the symbol of the cross was, also, often en
e. g. Calverley, p. 128.
* Martigny s. v. Monogram.
closed in a circle, the emblem of eternity. From these rude Christian monuments developed the graceful and elaborately ornamented crosses of the later period. The tall shaft of these is all that remains of the obelisk, and, crowning this, the cross, generally coupled with the circle. Some of the oldest of these monuments,' says Allen, are still covered with interlaced work, but without the cross. A celebrated example is at Llantwit Major in Glamorganshire. ... The Penrith crosses are a good instance of pillar-stones, differing very little in outline from the pagan monoliths.''
The remains of the stone monuments which bear the cross incised, or are cruciform, may be roughly divided into two classes. First, the Pillar-Stones just described, which are only removed from the pagan monolith by the incision of the cross, but which sometimes bear other Christian marks or inscriptions. Secondly, the Interlaced Crosses, which are stones carved into the shape of the cross, erected upon a base, with more or less elaborate ornament upon the sides. Sometimes there is also an inscription, but both the lettering of the inscriptions and the details of ornament vary according to the locality. Let us examine these two classes in detail.
1. Pillar-Stones. These rude pillar-stones belong to the period when paganism was being superseded by Christianity. They are most common in Ireland; in Wales there are a hundred and seven; in Scotland, five; in Dorset, Devon, and Cornwall, thirty. Their geographical distribution points to their Celtic origin, with Ireland for their home.
The characteristics of this class are as follows. The stone is in its natural state, without dressing and without ornament. The cross is incised, and of the simplest form, generally two lines crossing at right angles, often inclosed in a circle. The inscription is in debased Latin capitals, or
*Brit. Arch. Journ. 34. 353.
in the Celtic language, in oghams. It is impossible to assign dates to these, as none of the names inscribed are known to history.
'Thať these rude pillar-stones belong to the transition period between paganism and Christianity is,' says Allen, ‘almost certain, as they are only found either in connection, with semi-pagan remains or upon the earliest Christian sites. They bear still further evidence of Christianity: some have the Chi Rho monogram; some of the names mentioned are Scriptural or distinctly Christian; and some of these are specified as church-officers, as bishops, and as priests; and, finally, Requiescat in Pace, a formula that is purely Christian, is also found, besides the customary Hic Jacet.
These stones must be regarded as the oldest Christian monuments in the British Isles. They belong to a period antedating the Christian art of the Anglo-Saxons, and to a different race. They stand in an introductory position to the more important art of the cross-monument, introduced later among the Anglo-Saxons by Christian artists from Ireland. This is represented in our second division of Interlaced Crosses.
2. Interlaced Crosses. This term is applied by Allen, 'because,' he says, 'the leading feature in the ornament is a variety of patterns formed of interlacing hands or cords. The characteristics of this class are entirely different from those of the rude pillar-stones, and are as follows: 1. The stone is carefully dressed, and cut out into the shape of a cross, and often fixed into a stone socket. 2. There is a profusion of ornament of a kind described hereafter, generally arranged in panels enclosed in a bead or cable molding. 3. The formulas of these inscriptions are more varied, and generally to the effect that “A erected this cross to B; pray for his soul.” 4. The language and lettering vary with the locality; the language being either Latin, Celtic, or Scandinavian, and the letters Irish minuscules and oghams (similar to the manuscripts of the same period) or the runic letters of Northern Europe.' These crosses are found at over 180 different localities in Great Britain, varying anywhere from two or three to twenty-one feet in height.
The art of these stones is Christian; springing from Ireland, and spreading thence with the diffusion of the faith into Wales, Scotland, and England. It was considerably modified by the locality to which it was transplanted. For example, in the Isle of Man, and parts of Cumberland, Derbyshire and Yorkshire, the Celtic styles are mingled with Danish. In the south of England the Saxon predominates.
'In purely Irish art,' says Allen," the geometrical ornament consists of three separate kinds, namely, spiral-work, key-patterns, and interlaced work. Of these, the spiralwork is the most typically Celtic, and is copied from the British metal work of pre-Christian times, the spiral, with expanded trumpet-shaped ends, being unknown outside the stones in Ireland and Scotland, and in a few of the manuscripts executed in England and by Irish monks abroad. Key-patterns occur on stones in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and the north of England. Interlaced work is found on stones throughout the whole of Great Britain.
'In Wales and the south of England interlaced work predominates; in the north of England interlaced work and key-patterns are found in combination; and in Scotland interlaced work, key-patterns, and spiral are blended together in about equal proportions. The Northumbrian stones are characterized by scrolls of great beauty. On the Scandinavian stones are found scaly dragons and runic inscriptions, also patterns formed by interlaced rings. On the stones showing Saxon influence the interlaced work is badly executed, and in Wales this is also sometimes the case.'
Besides these styles of ornament, there are found also symbolical devices—the triquetra, the emblem of the Trin
* Brit. Arch. Journ. 41. 267.
ity, and the five bosses, representing the five wounds of the Saviour; and pictorial representations of men, birds, trees and animals, many of which also probably bore a symbolical meaning
3. Pictorial Of the pictorial decorations the most common are the crucifixion, hunting scenes, and portraits of the Evangelists. In some instances of the crucifixion, as the Halton and Burton Crosses,' the Virgin and John are pictured standing on either side of a plain cross. As the custom of representing Christ's person on the cross became general, the crosses sometimes became crucifixes, with rude carvings of a body, generally clothed in a long tunic, and with arms outstretched at right angles to the body. This was almost without exception upon the western face of the crosses, in accordance with the traditions of the position of Christ on the cross. Sometimes, as on some of the Cornish crosses, these crucified figures were evidently added at a date later than that of the erection of the cross. Another method was to insert a picture of the crucifixion-scene in one of the panels of ornamentation upon the shaft of the cross. In all of these the figure-carving is of the simplest and crudest description.
The most curious feature of the pictorial ornament is the representation of warriors and huntsmen on horseback, together with stags and hounds. These are found most frequently on crosses in Scotland; they occur in Ireland, but there they are placed more frequently upon the base, rather than the shaft of the cross.
These pictures of the chase appear so often that it is believed that they do not refer to contemporary events, or the occupation of the person in whose memory the cross may have been erected, but that they have a mystic, Christian significance, as the chase is repeatedly referred to by the Fathers as a commonly accepted symbol of the conver
* Calverley, pp. 89, 186.