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the ground, further up are two creatures of conventional character, and higher still two birds, hawk or eagle, and raven, while the two topmost fruits are nibbled by two squirrels.
During the eleventh century the interlaced cross declined, and perhaps in the profusion and mixture of all sorts of details in such a cross as described above may be seen the beginnings of the decline. The elaborate interlaced design of Ireland was never executed by Anglo-Saxon artists with the same skill as by the Irish. They were content to give the suggestion of interlacing, without the careful and conscientious carving of the Irish artists. It must be admitted that the Anglo-Saxons appear to have contributed nothing whatever to the development of artistic ornament upon the
(c) The Use of the Monumental Cross But the question of chief importance, perhaps, in connection with these stone crosses, is the part that they played in the life of the people.
1. Memorial. The ancient pagan monoliths that have been described were memorials erected in honor of some departed hero; and in the earliest Christian forms, the pillar-stone, with its cross and circle and simple inscription, served the same purpose. These stones, as already noted, belong to a Celtic area. With the retreat of the British disappeared the custom of erecting a tomb-cross over a grave. In Ireland, according to the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, it seems to have been the custom to raise the cross over the grave of every Christian; but in Anglo-Saxon England the horizontal slab was used instead, and it was not till the tenth century that the headstone cross was employed.”
But there were crosses erected to the memory of a saint, friend, or relative, which were not placed at the grave. The cross commemorative of Owen, the shaft of which is now in Ely Cathedral, is an example. It bears the simple inscription, 'Lucem tuam Ovino da Deus et requiem.'
Of a rather different class of memorial crosses are the following examples. In the life of St. Columba it is related that Ernan, an aged priest, tried to see Columba before he died, but while on his way fell upon the ground, and expired before fulfilling his desire: 'Hence on that spot before the door of the kiln, a cross was raised, and another cross was in like manner put up where the saint resided at the time of his death, which remaineth to this
In the story that Malmesbury tells of the burial of Aldhelm is a similar use. The saint had died at the distance of fifty miles from Glastonbury, and as the funeral procession set out for Glastonbury, where he was to be buried, at each stage of seven miles where the body rested, a cross was afterwards erected. At these crosses the sick were healed, and all seven of them, says the chronicler, were standing in his day, and were called “bishop stones.'
Simeon of Durham * mentions a stone cross erected by Bishop Ethelwold at Lindisfarne in memory of Cuthbert. Its top was broken off by the Danes when they pillaged Lindisfarne, but afterwards the broken part was fastened on with lead, and thereafter the cross was always carried about with the body of Cuthbert whenever it was moved. It came to be venerated by the Northumbrians in memory of Ethelwold and Cuthbert together. The writer says of the cross that 'to this day, standing on high in the cemetery of Durham minster, it shows to all who gaze upon it a memorial of both these pontiffs.'
Crosses were sometimes raised in memory of some great event. After Oswald's victory, the cross of wood remained upright upon the battle-field, and later a stone cross took its place. According to Lingard, after the burning of the Abbey of Medeshamstede (Peterborough) and the massacre of the monks by the Danes, the victims were buried
Adamnan, p. 38. • Gesta Pontif., p. 383.
* Opera, Rolls Series 1.
in one wide grave; on the surface, a small pyramid of stone was placed, bearing a record of the disaster, and opposite the pyramid, to protect the spot from being profaned, a cross, on which was engraved the image of Christ.
It should be added, however, that many of the crosses which are described as marking the site of a battle, or of a church council, are so described through a local tradition, or more often on pure supposition. Still, while genuine remains are rare, there is no doubt that the custom was known and practised.
2. Mortuary. Although the Anglo-Saxons did not place the head-stone cross on the grave till the tenth century, they were accustomed from a much earlier time to erect a cross in the churchyard. This was a custom of Christian Rome, and was doubtless introduced by the Roman missionaries. At the consecration of the cemetery, this cross was erected, together with smaller ones at each of the four corners of the plot, corresponding to the points of the compass, to mark the boundaries. In the consecration service, the bishop began by making the circuit of the grounds with his clergy, chanting the litany. Then he read a portion of the service at the eastern cross, did the same at the southern, western, and northern crosses, and concluded at the cross in the centre."
Although in the earlier period no crosses stood over individual graves, the stone slabs or the stone coffins in which the richer were buried were marked with the emblem of the Christian's hope. There were also small square stones called 'pillow stones,' which lay under the head of the deceased, and bore carved upon their surface the same emblem. Some of these slabs show by their ornament that they are contemporary with the interlaced crosses. Others have no trace of it, and are probably earlier. Many of the interlaced crosses which remain to this day were probably graveyard crosses, as they are often found near the sites of Anglo-Saxon churches.
* Schaff-Herzog, 'Kreuz.'
* Archæologia 26. 480.
Some miscellaneous crosses connected with burial may be included here. According to Rock, a cross and a book of the Gospels were laid across the body to preserve it from the attack of demons. Frequently buried with the corpse was a cross which, according to the same authority, was generally of wood, with a sheathing of gilt metal.'' King Edward the Confessor was buried with a golden crucifix.
I have met but one instance of the so-called 'cross of absolution;' this was found in the tomb of Saint Birinus.'
3. Boundary. In the crosses of the graveyard, we noted four small crosses marking the limits of the ground. These were ' boundary crosses.' There are references in the terms contained in charters to various boundary crosses, in which they are referred to as a 'gilded cross,' a 'wooden cross,' a 'stone cross,' a 'red cross,' and sometimes merely a ' Christ symbol.'' These served to mark the limits of church property.
So the monks of Edmundsbury erected four crosses, one at each extremity of the town, to define the limits of their authority, and Bishop Losinga' raised a cross at Norwich to serve as a boundary mark between the land of the church and the borough. St. Guthlac also set up a cross at Croyland as a boundary mark.
There is an Irish canon of the eighth century which directs that a cross should be set up on all consecrated grounds, not only to mark the bounds, but also to sanctify the spot. A few centuries later, in England, a law had to be passed forbidding men to set up a cross falsely upon their lands in order to pass them off as church property, and so evade taxation.
To these boundary stones of the church land, the so
? Lingard 2. 50. Archæol. 3, 390.
*Rock 1. 173, note. e. g. Earle, Handbook, p. 29; Codex Dipl. 2. 287. *Dugdale, Monasticon 3. 99. ' Ibid.
Seymour, p. 321.
called 'Rogations were made. The Rogation Days were the seventh of the calends of May,' and the three days before Ascension Day. In these Rogations, the clergy and all the parish walked in procession with candles and crosses, laid earth and grass upon the boundary stones, and offered prayers to avert pestilence.
4. Sanctuary. In the Irish canon quoted above, the cross served not only to mark the boundary but also to consecrate the land. It was so sacred an emblem that none would dare remove it as a landmark, and it made the ground upon which it stood holy. Hence it became a mark of sanctuary. Some churches, out of special reverence for the saints whose bones they possessed, had a peculiar privilege of sanctuary. 'A chair of stone, called the Frid, or Frith stool, was sometimes set near the shrine of certain saints, or the high altar; the churches of York, Hexham, and Beverley enjoyed this privilege, and in the last two these stools are still preserved. The rights of the Frith stool overshadowed the region for the distance of a mile, and guarded to the refugee the widest privilege belonging by charter to this sanctuary, as long as he chose to remain within bounds. Crosses marked the limits of safety. ... This custom is noticed in the dying wish of St. Cuthbert, who desired to be buried at Farne, lest if buried at Lindisfarne his grave might become a place of refuge for runaways.''
The fugitive who got within the protection of these sanctuary crosses was given a black robe with a yellow cross on his shoulder, in token of the shelter the symbol had given him. The crosses themselves stood very high, so that the fugitive could see them from afar, and be guided to safety.
5. The Standard Cross. Probably the earliest use of the monumental cross in Anglo-Saxon England was that as a standard of the faith, and a centre for preaching the Gos
1 Canons of St. Cuthbert (747 A. D.) at Cloveshoe; q. ibid. p. 322. • Rock 3, part I, p. 365. Seymour, p. 220.