Volume I | Chapter 5 | Chronology and Schools of CarvingNextBack to catalogue index
by Rosemary Cramp, University of Durham


The area covered in this volume is distinguished by a group of monastic stone churches for which the foundation date is known: Hexham, 673–4; Monkwearmouth, 674; and Jarrow, 682–5. Something of the aspirations and contacts of the founders of the churches is recorded in the works of Bede and Eddius Stephanus (p. 3). These churches, unlike the earlier rubble churches of Kent or the wooden churches of the Irish mission based on Lindisfarne, were highly decorated with sculpture. Some of this remains in situ, as at Monkwearmouth, some has been built in to the fabric of the later church, but much more has been recovered from these sites by controlled, and uncontrolled, excavation. In fact, about fifty fragments of architectural sculpture survive from these three sites alone. Some pieces, discovered in recent excavations, indicate that not only the churches but also the major monastic buildings were decorated with sculpture. The remains consist of door linings, imposts, narrow and wide friezes, slabs which could have been wall plaques or possibly closure slabs for the sanctuary, and furniture. There are indications on some of this sculpture to suggest that it was covered with a gesso base and painted. Traces of such a base and red and black paint survive at Monkwearmouth on fragment no. 14 and more were noted in the past.

We know that the main church of St Peter, Monkwearmouth, was completed by 675. The sculpture which survives in situ is, however, associated with the later west porch. This is secondary to the first phase of work but is so similar in constructional technique that it need not be long after, and is certainly before 686 (p. 19). Monkwearmouth was a centre of innovation in that, like Ripon, it used in the new medium of stone the repertoire of Insular ornament found in metalwork and manuscripts (Cramp 1974, 120–1). The animals on the jambs of the entrance to the west porch (no. 8) have reptilian heads with long jaws, closed and interlocked, and twisted bodies. The closure slab (no. 9) shows similar creatures (p. 19). This piece was not found in situ, but it is decorated with fine interlace roundels of encircled pattern F, a rare pattern which is found on other architectural fragments from Monkwearmouth (nos. 17 and 19), and all these pieces are in a fine Roker dolomite which distinguishes the early work at this centre (Fig. 5). The interlace and animal patterns on no. 9 have been discussed in detail (p. 126) and are seen as closely paralleled in the Book of Durrow and Durham A. II. 17, as well as an important link between the art of Northumbria and Pictish art. Although perhaps later, the fine sandstone head, no. 16, which seems to be part of a piece of furniture, is like another Insular manuscript, the Lichfield Gospels, p. 218 (Henry 1965, pl. 103). This, and nos. 8 and 9, may be contrasted with the three-dimensional lion arm-rests (nos. 15a–b), which show an understanding of the canons of Classical sculpture, unique in Northumbrian work. These arm-rests are most reasonably reconstructed as part of the clergy bench and abbot's seat of Benedict Biscop's church, and may well be the work of foreign carvers, since there are no later developments at other centres of large-scale beasts so confidently executed. It is, however, in the development of Insular patterns such as the fine surrounded interlace patterns that the influence of Monkwearmouth as an artistic centre can most clearly be seen. This type of interlace could have been transferred to Pictland and is seen in centres such as Meigle, Perthshire (Henderson 1967, pl. 54). There is also a link with Hexham in that the smooth-skinned animals on the porch string-course are like the Hexham animal friezes (Cramp 1974, 119–20). Yet at the secondary foundation of Jarrow there are found on surviving monuments neither the delicate animal and interlace patterns nor the bold monumental animals. The only sculptural link between Monkwearmouth and Jarrow is provided by free-standing balusters.

Lathe-turned free-standing balusters are distinctive vestiges of the late seventh-century buildings at Monkwearmouth and Jarrow; at Monkwearmouth fragments have been found in the destroyed monastic buildings as well as in the church. Moreover, at Jarrow and Hexham balustrade ornament is found on friezes, imposts, and, possibly, lintels, and at Jarrow also on crosses and incised slabs, thus providing an important link between architectural and funerary monuments.

The ultimate origin of both the free-standing baluster and balustrade ornament is probably in wood carving. Such ornament is found at Bawit in Egypt, and also on sixth-century continental furniture such as St Radegund's reading desk and the bed from the prince's grave under Cologne cathedral (Torp 1971; Werner 1964, figs. 6–7). However, stone balusters and ornamental balustrades are known from Roman contexts. Baldwin Brown (Brown 1925, 257–9) postulated a Roman origin for the incised and banded balusters from Monkwearmouth/Jarrow, despite the lack of division of the shafts into capital, column, and base, as on the Roman examples. He failed to find examples of shafts in post-Roman Gaul from where the first Monkwearmouth builders came. However, in view of the extant examples of stone balusters from such centres in France as Nouaillé and Poitiers, as well as the continuing tradition of baluster imposts as at Germigny des Pr**s, it seems sensible to see this sub-Roman ornament as derived from the continent, introduced by Gaulish workmen at Monkwearmouth, and later copied at Jarrow and Hexham (Cramp 1965b, 4, pl. 3; Hubert, Porcher and Volbach 1968, fig. 43).

In form the free-standing balusters from Monkwearmouth are very varied. Two pairs of shafts stand, in what seems to be their original position, supporting the imposts of the open portal in the west porch (Fig. 6, ii). In the interior of the church twenty-seven smaller balusters (Figs. 7–8) are displayed, of which only one pair is of the same type. It seems likely that these were part of a low balustrade either at the base or top of an enclosure, for example surrounding the sanctuary or choir. Some may have flanked small openings, like the pairs on either side of the west windows at Monkwearmouth, which are not, however, in their original positions. This view is supported by the fact that fragments of balusters have also been found in the destruction levels of the monastic buildings (Cramp 1969, 39). At Jarrow the free-standing balusters are much more uniform, and could be part of a railed enclosure (Figs. 9–10).

Runs of miniature balusters or balustrade ornament are found on friezes and imposts at Jarrow, and at Hexham and Simonburn. These balusters are not drum-shaped like the free-standing ones, but resemble the Roman type (Brown 1925, 58–60), with splayed tops and bases and a single band round the belly of the shaft. At Jarrow the lower edge of one such piece (no. 15) seems to be cut back and dressed with a moulding on the lower edge, while the upper edge is chamfered and rough-dressed as if to be covered with plaster. It seems possible, therefore, that these 'friezes' could have served as lintels above an opening rather than insets in a wall. One might envisage for both Monkwearmouth and Jarrow that the balusters formed a sort of pergola around the sanctuary or an altar canopy (Grabar 1972, II, pl. 14, 1, 3; Serra 1974, no. 180, pls. 131, 133). Possibly, however, there were several different functions since two strips are of a different height, one 12.5 cm (5 in), the other 15.9 cm (6.5 in). These strips or lintels could also have been linked with imposts on which two faces were decorated with groups of three balusters divided by plain panels. (The same formula is also found on the side of a cross-head, no. 9, and an inscription, no. 14). There is one other strip at Jarrow where the balusters are not bellying and splayed, but straight (no. 26).

Hexham does not share the free-standing balusters with Monkwearmouth/Jarrow, but it does have the small balustrade ornament. At Hexham, however, on three imposts or string-courses (nos. 24–7), the upright balusters are linked by horizontal balustrades, while on two chamfered imposts from Simonburn they are combined with curvilinear ornament (nos. 3–4). It seems, therefore, that this 'Roman' style of decoration was adopted at Hexham and its dependencies, using a slightly different formula from Monkwearmouth and Jarrow.

The early architectural work of these important centres reflects contemporary continental or traditional Roman taste. From these sites the rosette pattern seems to have been adopted, together with the plain cross-head type, in Carlisle. Petal patterns are also found at Ripon and Ledsham, both in Yorkshire (Cramp 1974, 122–3) and both early foundations linked with the 'metalwork styles' of Monkwearmouth/Jarrow, and also at Escomb (no. 3), which has parallels in its plant-scrolls with Jarrow (p. 15). Nos. 33–5 (p. 19) from Hexham seem to resemble the animal frieze which originally adorned the west front of Monkwearmouth porch. Moreover, the imposts and strip-work with balustrade ornament (nos. 23–8) are clearly linked with Jarrow, as are also the heavy intricate plait patterns. Hexham also has a distinctive Visigothic motif on no. 34, which perhaps provides a clue as to the origin of such schemes of friezes, terminating in imposts or combinations of friezes and plaques, or panels. Little has survived in southern France, but in the Visigothic structures of northern Spain, such schemes of ornament can be paralleled (Palol and Hirmer 1967, pls. 4–6). It is unfortunate that none of these architectural schemes has survived in situ — the small, eastern church at Jarrow, now the chancel, is completely devoid of ornament. However, the quantity of carvings, which has survived by chance, gives some idea of the lavish sculptured ornament there must once have been.

At Jarrow there are also architectural details (nos. 19 and 20) and fragments of what is possibly a piece of furniture (no. 22), which introduce the plant-scrolls and inhabited scrolls which were to become so popular on Northumbrian crosses. The bird frieze (no. 19) and the hunter frieze (no. 20) seem to be part of the same scheme despite differences in their size and mouldings. The detail of the plant organization and elements is identical and must be contemporary. The top of the cross-shaft (no. 2), although more worn and on a smaller scale, shows the same type of scroll. If only one could fix the friezes within the framework of the basilica dedicated in 685, it would then be possible to see the cross, and possibly related monuments such as Ruthwell and Bewcastle, as carved within the succeeding generation. However, the primary position of no. 22 in a building which can hardly be much later than the basilica fixes the style of carving of such scrolls to the early eighth century at the latest.

The influence of metalwork prototypes is found on the cross-head at Jarrow (nos. 8 and 9), at Northallerton (of the Ripon school) and the Hexham (no. 1) cross-head. It seems likely, therefore, that the idea of translating into stone the grand metal crosses was developed early at these centres. This is supported by the fact that, at Jarrow, two patterns — the baluster and plant-scrolls — are found on both architectural features and crosses (Cramp 1974, 134–6). There is a special veneration for the cross recorded at Jarrow on no. 16. The inscription on this cross is near in letter form to the dedication inscription for the 685 basilica. Perhaps the emergence of the free-standing cross is directly linked at this centre with the development of stone architecture.


Although the Ionan church may be credited with the introduction of the wooden preaching cross into Northumbria (pp. 1, 5), there is no surviving evidence of early or experimental work in stone sculpture in the primary centre of Lindisfarne. The series of incised recumbent slabs which is considered separately (p. 7) is a reflection of the precise draughtsmanship of the scribe and must be seen as an extension of Hiberno-Saxon calligraphy. The earliest recorded free-standing cross, unless St Cuthbert began this tradition (p. 5), seems to have been the one carved for or by Bishop Aethelwold before his death in 740, a monument which was so revered by the community that it was taken from the island in 875, together with the body of St Cuthbert and other precious objects. It was eventually re-erected in the churchyard at Durham (p. 4). The production of a carved stone cross at Lindisfarne must be seen as a reflection of the same external influences on the Insular tradition as those which produced the Lindisfarne Gospels, the renovation of the church, and Bede's rewriting of the Life of St Cuthbert.

The form of the Lindisfarne crosses is remarkably consistent in that, after the incised slab series, the cross-head on both the relief slab and free-armed crosses is double cusped (type D). An important eighth-century cross at Lindisfarne, such as St Aethelwold's must have been, could have contributed also to the eclectic art of what survives today on the early crosses of north Bernicia, at such centres as Abercorn, Aberlady, Coldingham (Pls. 265–7, 1430–7), Bewcastle and Jedburgh. These use in their scheme of ornament plant-scrolls of the Hexham type or inhabited scrolls of the Jarrow type which flow uninterruptedly over the entire narrow face. However, at Bewcastle and Aberlady the faces are also divided into panels using single figures, complex geometric interlace and interlaced beasts, which could have derived from an Hiberno-Saxon centre, such as Lindisfarne.

The layout and cutting of the ornament on the early Bernician pieces is extremely competent. Adcock (1974, chap. 4) has called it 'The Designed Panel School' and compares the interlaces with that of Durham B. II. 30, fol. 172v. No work of comparable quality now survives at Lindisfarne, but, in what I see as the earliest pieces (nos. 1 and 18) dating between c. 775 and 825, there is some fine interlace cutting. Nos. 2–4 and 6 also use a scheme of panelled ornament in which interlace, animals and key patterns alternate with blank spaces. This group which is most reasonably dated early ninth century is closely related to Alnmouth, Tynemouth (no. 1) and Great Fame in the fashion for complex interlaces (p. 17). There are indications that these ribbon animals as well as interlace, key and fret patterns were translated by the community to their new centre at Chester-le-Street in the late ninth century (p. 32). However it is also clear that some stone carvers continued to operate on Lindisfarne and that they, in their turn, were affected in the tenth century by the new fashions of the southern part of co. Durham.

On Lindisfarne 5, 7 and 8 the art of geometric interlace design was lost, and the introduction of twists, ring-knots and lumpy bare-legged figures clearly indicates Anglo-Scandinavian influence. This group has close links with some of the later pieces at Chester-le-Street, and fits happily into the tenth century. Whilst at Chester-le-Street itself, the community of St Cuthbert was subjected to other influences, possibly deriving from Jarrow and the direct links with Lindisfarne were severed (p. 3). The competent revival of Hiberno-Saxon ornament seen in the Durham school of c. A.D. 1000 is most probably a deliberate attempt to re-establish the old traditions.


The picture which has so far been outlined for the development of sculpture in Northumbria shows a simultaneous outburst of new ideas at several centres between the late seventh and mid eighth century, followed by a steady development of work in the same styles in major and minor centres, but incorporating new motifs.

This is almost certainly an over-simplified view, ill-balanced by those centres where excavation has occurred. Nevertheless, the general tendency to conservatism in this area is probably correct, if one compares the sculptural development in Deira, where in the first half of the ninth century there is a clear reflection of new motifs from English and continental metalwork and manuscripts. The impact of 'Carolingian' influence on Northumbrian sculpture was well set out by Kendrick, although I see the Auckland St Andrew cross as a reflection of this, and as dating rather nearer 800 than he does. Thus it represents something new in Northumbrian art rather than a barbaric rendering of an old tradition (Kendrick 1938, 140–58). This cross and the fragment from Dalton-le-Dale maintain the formula, established by the mid eighth century; of figural panels on the broad faces and inhabited scrolls on the narrow. However, the use of three-quarter figures — paired or in threes —, the treatment of their drapery and hair, and the clever modelling of the faces, can all be paralleled, as noted above (p. 21), with some work at Breedon or with continental manuscripts such as the Corbie Psalter or the Sainte Croix, Poitiers Gospels (Hubert, Porcher and Volbach 1969, pl. 211). At Escomb there appears to be a development of the grotesque leggy creatures in the scrolls. At Auckland St Andrew the dogs with collared necks and rounded bumpy foreheads can be compared with those on the Strickland brooch, or in manuscripts such as British Library Royal 1. E. VI (Wheeler 1977, 236–40); the birds with parrot-like beaks are fashionable in midland sculpture such as Cropthorne, Worcestershire (Kendrick 1938, pl. 80). At Escomb one also finds creatures spread-eagled and with spiral hip-joints in the manner of the Witham pins or the Fetter Lane sword (ibid., pls. 71, 79, 1). The plant-scrolls on the Escomb cross have the distinctive midland type of rounded leaf with indented centre,21 which also occurs in Northumbria on the earliest of the Ilkley, Yorkshire, crosses — a cross which similarly reflects the southern English flora and fauna, of c. 800. Elsewhere in the southern part of co. Durham the birds or beasts of southern English manuscripts may be grotesquely copied, as at Billingham in the bird fragment (no. 7).

In Northumberland, however, the tantalizing fragments from Norham include a cross-head with an animal stiffly extended, with everted wings, and surrounded by a wiry plant with ivy-like leaves. This surely reflects southern English styles, and it has been noted above in the discussion of figure sculpture (p. 21) that Norham uniquely parallels in Bernicia the work of Yorkshire carvings such as Easby and Otley. The occurrence of large cross-heads covered by sprawling plant-scrolls, and of changing patterns of interlace where the strands are median-incised, is also most closely paralleled in Yorkshire, and so striking is the sum of these motifs at Norham that one might postulate the introduction in the ninth century of a carver from Yorkshire to that royally endowed centre.

At Rothbury the fragments of what must have been when complete an extremely impressive cross also reflect new iconographic types in the figural scenes, such as the Crucifixion or the Ascension (p. 20), which are closely related to developments in Carolingian and southern English art around 800. However, this piece can be seen also as deeply rooted in northern Insular tradition particularly with relation to the vine-scroll and the figure styles, while the interlaced reptilian creatures occur on monuments of southern Pictland, such as the St Andrews sarcophagus or the slab from Nigg, Ross and Cromarty. Parallels have been seen between these pieces and Mercian art (Henderson 1967, 150–7), but perhaps one should see in the period around 800 the widening of artistic provinces, so that, just as in minor metalwork, animal ornament of the same type can be found from the Tweed to the south coast. Major monuments also share a common taste for the reinterpretation of late Classical and orientalizing art. The Rothbury figures are stiff and stark but they are powerful and confident carvings. The reptiles, in whose coils smaller, softer humans and animals struggle, are more disturbing and violent than any of the similar compositions from Melsonby in Yorkshire to Rosemarkie in Ross and Cromarty, and prefigure the restless, savage carving of the Viking period.

These pieces indicate that Bernician sculpture in the ninth century was still a live and varied art. There are weak derivative pieces, such as Falstone, but, in Northumberland, pieces such as the Bamburgh chair or the Tynemouth 1 cross continue to develop the old motifs of Insular ornament, and in co. Durham, centres such as Hart or Billingham reflect, like the major crosses discussed above, the styles of southern English ornament.


It has long been recognized that the impact of Scandinavian taste on the art of the English stone monuments varied in degree, so that it produced some monuments 'frankly Scandinavian, those less so, and some in which there is only a general reflex of the foreign influence' (Collingwood 1927, 127–8).

These divisions can be usefully applied to this area, although most of the examples, even the important group from Sockburn, are not considered by Collingwood or Br,ndsted and have not figured in discussion of the classic art styles by modern writers such as Wilson.

The 'general reflex' is the most frequent phenomenon, and between the rivers Tyne and Tweed there seems a strong conservatism which maintains an obstinately English stance, in opposition to the new secular taste of the Anglo-Scandinavian world farther south.

Collingwood bravely distinguished between Anglo-Danish and Anglo-Norwegian sculpture, but in recent works on Viking art in the homeland no distinction is made between Dane, Norwegian and Swede, in categorizing ornament under such general headings as Jellinge, Mammen or Ringerike. In the art of the Viking colonies, as in the homelands, it seems safer to refer to Scandinavian motifs and influence rather than to assign them to any distinct national group. Moreover it is easy to create divisions tailored to the recorded events of settlement history rather than to let the ornament speak for itself.

Formally, there were some changes in the shape of grave-markers or crosses — the most obvious Scandinavian influence being in the introduction of the hogback grave-marker (G.I., p. xxi, figs. 5–7). These occur in this area only along the Tees valley and in the old wapentake of Sadberge22 (with the exception of a late outlier at Hexham, no. 18). At Gainford (no. 22) the scroll type links with Yorkshire (Danish) influences in the sculpture. The niche types at Sockburn (nos. 16–18) closely parallel Allertonshire types, but the illustrative types from Sockburn (nos. 14–15 and 21) find their closest affinities with Cumbrian examples such as those at Heysham (Collingwood 1927, 169, fig. 207) and Gosforth (ibid., 172, fig. 211). Ring-headed crosses (p. 9), a distinctive new form which emerges under Scandinavian influence, are found at Sockburn (nos. 11–13) and Greatham (no. 2), while the round shaft with swags, which is a popular Anglo-Scandinavian form in Cumbria and the midlands, is found only at Coniscliffe (no. 6).

One centre, Gainford, has a grave-slab (no. 20) of the same type as those found in the York minster cemetery, indicating a close contact at this site with metropolitan Danish art. The distribution of Scandinavian influenced sculpture has been discussed by C. D. Morris in two articles (1976 and 1977), in which he particularly stresses the relationship of such material with recorded land-holdings of Scandinavians in the Tees valley, and sees the Norse supremacy here as particularly influential. However, it is difficult to substantiate that this, rather than the Danish supremacy, is the more important.

The Scandinavian impact on ornament is not only seen in the adoption of individual motifs but in the restless links, irregular voids, and branching or tapering strands, which distinguish Scandinavian interlace or animal ornament from the geometrically organized work of the earlier Hiberno-Saxon world. Sometimes it is only a more general impact together with the adoption of a single Scandinavian motif that can be seen, as at centres such as Hart, Chester-le-Street or Great Stainton. However in other places, notably Gainford, Sockburn, Haughton-le-Skerne, Dinsdale, Coniscliffe, Aycliffe and Darlington, specific motifs occur which can be closely paralleled in metalwork from the Scandinavian homelands or in sculpture in other Viking colonies, such as the Isle of Man, and these are combined with 'Scandinavian' layout and ornament lines.

Collingwood's criteria for distinguishing Anglo-Danish ornament seem to be the ribbon animal of Jellinge type and the Great Beast in the beast-chain. One could perhaps add the single figure in secular dress, such as occurs in Yorkshire at Middleton and Folkton. Coilingwood's hall-marks of the Anglo-Norse appear to be the Como-braid loops; ring-chains and ring-knots; coiled serpents, or serpent-headed interlace; bound human figures or narrative scenes, possibly of mythological or legendary significance; and 'naturalistic' animals. Many of these features can be paralleled in the art of the Viking homelands at sites widely distributed through Sweden and Norway, and they are also found on Manx and Cumbrian sculpture.

The difficulty of assessing the many extended and ribbon animals in this area is that there is a strong pre-Scandinavian tradition of animal art in the Hiberno-Saxon world, which is reflected in manuscripts and such stones as Lindisfarne 1, Norham 3 and Bamburgh 1. These animals are either revived or recombined in such pieces as Durham 1, Tynemouth 1 and 4, Aycliffe 1–2 and Chester-le-Street 5 and 8.

However, both Sockburn and Haughton-le-Skerne have undisputedly Scandinavian-type animals. On Haughton-le-Skerne 6 and Sockburn 8 there is a classic and confident section of Jellinge ornament and on Gainford 1 and 2 and Sockburn 2 rather less confident renderings of the Great Beast-chain, which is a distinctive feature of the Anglo-Scandinavian art of the midland and northern Danelaw (Lang 1978a, 146–51). All these creatures have the double outline, scrolled hip-joint, fanged heads and posture of the Scandinavian beasts. The ribbon animals from Durham, Aycliffe and Tynemouth have another (possibly later) type of head which is backward thrown and with a twisted lip. This is quite different from the canine type with squared muzzle of the Hiberno-Saxon beasts at Lindisfarne and Norham. On Haughton-le-Skerne 3, where one face has a worn composition of long-necked, round-headed animals, the crescentine curves and irregular voids are reminiscent of the metalwork from Broa, Gotland (Wilson and Klindt-Jensen 1966, figs. 31–8).

There is no animal ornament that could be strictly called Mammen on these stone crosses, although some of the fragmentary pelleted serpents from Chester-le-Street and Aycliffe may have been affected by this style. However the Great Beast enmeshed by a serpent, which is found on the Durham 7 and 8 cross-heads, is given a distinctly English cast, and there is no evidence for the combination of animals with acanthus ornament in this area. It seems then that the Jellinge style of animal ornament was the latest to be accepted in a pure form into the Northumbrian repertoire, and that the Scandinavian styles most favoured seem to be those which flourished from the late ninth to the late tenth century.

The individual figures and narrative figural groups of the Tees valley also include much that is reminiscent of Scandinavian art of the ninth century, as found on the Gotlandic stones, or the cart, ship's prow and reconstructed tapestry from Oseberg. For example, the horn-bearing woman with long hair, wearing a dress with trailing hem, on Sockburn 15, or the pairs of figures on Sockburn 3 and 6, can be paralleled on metalwork from Denmark and Sweden and stones such as those found at Tj**ngvide or Alskog (Wilson and Klindt-Jensen 1966, pl. 26), while at Klinte Hunninge (Lindqvist 1941–2, fig. 128) not only do these figures occur, but there is also a man with a bird and a snake, as on Sockburn 3.23 The bird and snake also occur with a bound dog or wolf on Gainford 4. On Sockburn 3 the great knotted snake encircles the top of the cross, as on the Sanda Sandeg**rda 1 grave-marker (ibid., fig. 48). The knotted snake is also found on Scandinavian-influenced stones at Gosforth and in the Isle of Man (Kermode 1907, fig. 37). Shared also with Gosforth and the Isle of Man sculptures are the ring-chain or vertebral patterns, which are features of the Borre style and a hall-mark of Gaut's crosses in Man. This motif which is found in a pure form at Sockburn (nos. 3, 6 and 13) and Gainford (no. 16) could be a sign of Norwegian influence.

It seems clear that the impact of the Scandinavians on the art of the area resulted in a lively transmission of ideas and a flourishing, hybrid art, which, like that in the Isle of Man, produced funerary monuments which blended the iconography of the Christian and pagan Germanic commemoration of the dead. The Christian monuments were there to be seen and to be copied in these new territories, but the models for the pagan iconography are not easy to discern if it is supposed that the carvers are English. Perhaps work could have been commissioned from English sculptors using metalwork models, or even the paintings on shields, for ring-chain ornament, animal art, or the figures of armed men. Sometimes, however, it is possible that Viking wood sculptors themselves adapted their techniques to the art of deep-relief stone carving. However the use of templates, which has been remarked on by Bailey (1978, 179–85; 1980, 242–52, fig. 78), could either have aided English sculptors in scaling up from small models or could have helped Scandinavians to master the new art and to transmit it. Later, it is true, memorial stones continued to be erected by the family in Scandinavia for a dead Viking killed in distant lands. However, in the period of the first settlement c. 916–40, families and friends could have commissioned a memorial in the dead man's new homeland. When Erik Bloodaxe was killed in England (954) and the Norwegian supremacy of the north ended, his widow commissioned a lay describing how the dead prince was received by ??inn and the other heroes at Valh**ll (Turville-Petre 1964, 282) — a scene which could perhaps be represented on crosses at Sockburn.

In figural ornament the Viking impact decisively introduced secular, specifically armed, figures into the art of the north. Some figures in contemporary dress had been portrayed on late Anglian pieces such as Monkwearmouth 7. However in the north Germanic world the tradition of depicting the armed man with his contemporary weapons is unbroken from migration times onwards, and, for a period in the early tenth century, this secular image was accepted for Northumbrian crosses.

One group of crosses at Sockburn, Hart and Billingham is clearly linked with others along the Tees valley, as well as with examples in Yorkshire such as those from Brompton and Kirklevington. Bailey has pointed out the template link between the figures on Sockburn 7 and Brompton (Bailey 1980, fig. 78). The Brompton cross includes in addition the portrait busts of an ecclesiastic and an angel which are directly in the ninth-century Anglian tradition (Cramp 1978a, 8–11). There is some attempt on these figures at rendering Classical drapery and distinguishing elements such as the maniple or halo. However the secular armed figure of the warrior with his spear is depicted full length (as are all Anglo-Scandinavian figures). Stylistically both ecclesiastic and secular figures are identical — stocky, rounded, sharply outlined — and isolated, as in the earlier Anglian tradition, in individual frames.

Other motifs which distinguish this group are the panels of plain plait with wide flat strands and deep triangular hole points; isolated animals; and the horseman motif, which finds close stylistic and iconographic parallels on Irish crosses (see, for example, Henry 1965, pl. 74).

Crosses such as Hart and Brompton, which combine the new motifs of Hiberno-Scandinavian art with the Anglian tradition, or the Sockburn stones discussed above, whose layout and treatment of the human figure conform to the traditions already established in the area, are perhaps Anglo-Danish work. The small figures at Gainford and Sockburn, which are very closely linked, and which bear explicitly Scandinavian motifs such as the bound man, or the horn-bearing woman who offers a drink to a warrior, are more closely allied with work in Cumbria and could reflect Irish/Norse influence.

It is impossible to doubt that the Sockburn hogback (no. 21) or even Sockburn 3 and 6 were carved by an artist deeply immersed in Scandinavian art. The sprawling composition is better fitted to reflect Scandinavian picture-stones or the horizontal picture-space on tapestries. However, no doubt stone carvers easily found how to adapt the horizontal narrative layout of Scandinavian tradition to the vertical format of crosses, just as earlier the continuous format of the Christian sarcophagus was exploded into individual frames. Only on the Gosforth cross in Cumbria have we enough surviving to reconstruct a sequence of figural art from the Viking north, but there are vestiges of such at Sockburn and Dinsdale.

It seems possible also that the Scandinavian legends were given a Christianized significance or that parallels could be seen between Christian and Germanic myths. The subjugation of the beasts, whether by Beowulf or Daniel, T**r or Christ, is a common theme and both Christian and heathen significances could be seen in the ornament of the Sockburn hogback (no. 21). Likewise the bound figures such as Gainford 5 or Billingham 1 could signify the binding of evil — whether Loki or Satan. The Billingham figure, like that from Kirklevington, has birds on his shoulders and so could be a figure of ??inn rather than Loki, but the eagle can have a Christian significance and could equally be modelled on St John's eagle.

Just as the iconography of Scandinavian funerary art could be given a new significance, so could the old, figural ornament of Anglo-Saxon crosses be given a new look. The linked figures at Gainford and Aycliffe hold books or crosses but they have been affected by the pattern-making taste of their age and reduced to a 'paper cut-out' type of formula.

Interlace develops loose curling terminals, rectangular ribbon-like knots, and flat strands which split and branch to form others. Sometimes indeed it is a subtly different use of space, a more turbulent and less geometrically conceived ornament rather than the more precise stylistic details of head type or body patterning which betray the impact of Scandinavian taste on Northumbrian art.


It seems that some English sculptors continued to operate in northern Bernicia into the early tenth century at least (see Lindisfarne, Alnmouth, Norham and Bothal).

After the establishment of the community at Chester-le-Street, there seems to be a break with the Lindisfarne tradition, although the Chester-le-Street shafts 1 and 6 have a circular plait rather like Lindisfarne/Alnmouth. No surviving fragments at Chester-le-Street have the distinctive Lindisfarne layout with blank panels or dividers composed of small areas of plait-work (although this layout is found at Aycliffe); instead there is a tendency to cover a complete side with uninterrupted interlace. It seems that, very quickly after their arrival, the community picked up ideas from their new site. Chester-le-Street 8 may be reminiscent of Lindisfarne, but the new tradition seems to begin with crosses like no. 1, which has a plant-scroll and interlace patterns very closely linked to late work at Jarrow. The distinctive split plait is also found on Jarrow 4, Chester-le-Street 1, and at Durham (nos. 1 and 11) and Aycliffe (nos. 1 and 5) (Adcock 1974, chap. 8). Perhaps the Jarrow influence derived from the occupation by the community of the old Monkwearmouth/Jarrow territories — a land-holding confirmed by King Aethelstan in 934. However in the generation that passed after their arrival at Chester-le-Street either they, or the craftsmen they used, were affected by the new Scandinavian art of the Danelaw and reciprocally affected it.

Some of the figural carving at Chester-le-Street seems to be affected by Scandinavian taste, although there are also echoes of the Insular tradition. On base no. 11 which has a closely packed scene, in which a central figure seems to be raised in the arms of two flanking figures, the iconography may be compared with Irish crosses which show the Massacre of the Innocents (Henry 1933, fig. 103) or, less probably, the execution of Isaiah (Bailey 1980, fig. 39). Moreover, the feature whereby the arch cuts off the top corner of the scene is like Lindisfarne 8. The interlace could also be derived from Lindisfarne (no. 5). The canine head which disappears into bindings on no. 1 could be derived from Lindisfarne (no. 7) but the closest parallel to the treatment of this motif is to be found at Gainford (one of the properties of Chester-le-Street). On the other faces of the Gainford fragment (no. 4) there are clearly Scandinavian motifs: a figure with humped shoulders; a man on horse-back with a pigtail (see also Hart 1, and Sockburn 3). (A horseman is also found on Chester-le-Street 1.)

This is interesting evidence for the eclectic taste of the Chester-le-Street community and for their contacts with Anglo-Scandinavian art along the Tees valley. Perhaps they never entirely severed their links with Lindisfarne, however, since the same figure type of a man with a beaked profile and oval eye occurs on Chester-le-Street 11 and Great Stainton 1 and the procession of armed men on Lindisfarne 37.

This northerly connection may also be demonstrated in the iconography of Chester-le-Street 12, in which two people appear to be embracing or wrestling, in the manner of those depicted on carvings from Glenferness, Nairn (Allen 1903, fig. 119), Eilean M**r, Argyllshire (ibid., fig. 396A), Castledermot, co. Kildare (Henry 1933, fig. 98), Durrow (ibid., pl. 84, 8) and Kells (ibid., pl. 84, 3). The procession of figures is reminiscent of Barochan, Renfrewshire (Allen 1903, fig. 457A–B).

If we compare the quality of carving at Chester-le-Street with Durham or Aycliffe work, then it appears that the community of St Cuthbert at Chester-le-Street produced no outstanding work, but merely reflected local or Scotto-Irish fashions, and that the tradition of carving stone crosses was maintained there by using local sculptors who had already been affected by Scandinavian taste. Possibly they retained some of the older Hiberno-Saxon patterns copied from existing crosses or manuscripts, and some new northerly, Anglo-Scottic, influences can be seen, perhaps deriving from when Chester-le-Street was once more in close contact with Lindisfarne and its north British territories. This could have been just before the re-establishment of the community at Durham in 995.

The traditions at Durham itself seem to begin with the St Oswald's cross, Durham 1. The problem it poses is whether there was a Christian community in Elvet (which is part of Durham city) connected with Tynemouth and Aycliffe before the coming of the community of St Cuthbert in 995. I have discussed this cross extensively in the past (Cramp 1966) as well as its connection with Tynemouth (Cramp 1967b); these views are supported by Adcock (1974, chap. 5), although she compares the St Oswald's cross with the Tynemouth Monk's Stone (no. 1), and three other Tynemouth fragments (nos. 2–4), separating them from Aycliffe 1, with which I compared the St Oswald's cross. Aycliffe 1 she groups with the Durham grave-cover (no. 11) as a later development.

Despite the worn condition of the Monk's Stone, a study in good light, together with early drawings (Stuart 1867, pls. lxxxiii–iv) (Pls. 224–5), enables most of its scheme of ornament to be recovered. The paired animals may be compared with those at Ilkley or Thornhill, Dumfriesshire (Allen 1903, 450, fig. 469A, B, D), and in manuscripts such as Durham B. II. 30, fol. 81v. Indeed, the cross seems most reasonably to fit into the ninth century and to be linked with Hiberno-Saxon rather than southern English traditions.

It is difficult to say when assessing its relationship to the Durham/Aycliffe late tenth to early eleventh-century group whether it served as a direct model, or whether it is fortuitously similar because the community of St Cuthbert preserved a Lindisfarne pattern book. Its nearest relation may have been Aethelwold's cross which could have provided a pattern book in itself. Two panels (Bii and Di), at least, of the Monk's Stone, Tynemouth, are closely linked with the Durham (no. 1, the St Oswald's cross) shaft.

When discovered, the St Oswald's cross was thought to be Aethelwold's cross itself. This was ridiculed by Greenwell (1890–5c, 281) who considered that, since three crosses had been discovered at St Oswald's, this meant that, many years before 995, there had been a church and its cemetery on the opposite side of the river Wear from the cathedral. Kendrick (1938, 137) was also once prepared to put the St Oswald's cross in the ninth century, but subsequently re-dated it to the tenth-century revival (Kendrick 1949, 95). Adcock moved it back to the ninth century (1974, 219) and Morris (1978, 103–4) proposed that the Aycliffe cross, with which it is connected, should be dated early tenth century. I still favour the late tenth-century date and believe that this cross could have marked the place where St Cuthbert's body rested before a church on the peninsula was ready to receive it. Moreover, its extraordinarily old-fashioned appearance could be explained as a deliberate desire by the community to restate their Lindisfarne connections as enshrined in Aethelwold's cross.

The crossed snakes (on Cii) which Adcock (1974, 209–25) has shown to be drawn on a grid are simply derived from Hiberno-Saxon manuscript patterns. The only close parallel to these, in sculpture, is the Monk's Stone, Tynemouth (no. 1). Above this panel on the St Oswald's cross is pattern C with outside strands, found at Lindisfarne (nos. 3 and 5), Alnmouth and Chester-le-Street (no. 1).

The other broad face (A) on the St Oswald's cross appears to have been carved more competently, and has almost the appearance of another hand, but it could be the same hand carving more familiar patterns. At the base (Aiii) is a double-stranded pattern E, found on the Monk's Stone, and on another Tynemouth fragment (no. 3); on a Lindisfarne cross-arm (no. 18); on the Durham grave-cover (no. 11). Above is a split plait found at Jarrow (no. 4), Chester-le-Street (no. 1), the same Durham grave-cover, and Aycliffe (nos. 1 and 5). In between (Aii) is a composition of two animals. These are closely paralleled at Tynemouth (no. 4) (and possibly on the Monk's Stone), and at Aycliffe (no. 1). These animals are totally different from the Lindisfarne style of beasts and their twisted lip and backward-thrown head put them into an Anglo-Scandinavian context. Such influences could, as we have seen (p. 29), have been assimilated by the community while it was still at Chester-le-Street, but once assimilated need not have changed.

On one narrow side of the St Oswald's cross (D) are closed circuit patterns as found on the Durham cross-heads (nos. 5–7) and also at Hart (no. 4), Hexham (no. 6), Norham (no. 14), Lastingham and West Tanfield, as well as twice at both Lindisfarne (nos. 2 and 6) and Tynemouth (nos. 2–3). This is clearly a ninth-century Northumbrian pattern which remains popular in the tenth century. On the other narrow side (B) the interlace, complete pattern B, is more localized. It is found at Aycliffe (no. 1), Durham (no. 7), Lindisfarne (no. 17), and on a cross-head from Tynemouth (no. 5). The St Oswald's cross is therefore closely linked with the Lindisfarne repertoire of patterns, but there are certain new patterns, such as the split plait, which like the distribution of the other patterns localize the affinities of the work within the Tyne-Tees region. The importance of the Monk's Stone in Tynemouth in providing a unique link with the pattern of crossed snakes should not be underestimated. However, this one feature cannot outweigh everything else. The rest of its ornament is not reflected on the St Oswald's cross. The broad faces of the Monk's Stone show inhabited plant-scrolls and paired beasts disposed in a ninth-century manner, and leaping animals, possibly hunting scenes, such as are found at Jedburgh. It could therefore reflect earlier eighth- and ninth-century traditions, some of which might have been shared by Lindisfarne. It is possible that the community of St Cuthbert was in touch with Tynemouth while still at Chester-le-Street, and that stone carving revived at Tynemouth in the late tenth century, either before or very soon after 995 when the community moved to Durham. Certainly the later Tynemouth carvers seem to have used figures under leafy arches and animal ornament, even fantastic beasts such as the centaur, which could have been copied from the Monk's Stone, in an Anglo-Scandinavian manner.

The same carvers also carved a cross at Ovingham (no. 1) and their traditions are transmitted to Aycliffe and Durham in monuments such as Aycliffe 1, 3, 7 and 10 and Durham 5–7, which share the same repertoire of plaits.

If the St Oswald's cross represents a continuation or revival of the Lindisfarne traditions at the period of the move to Durham, the grave-cover (no. 11), discovered in the foundations of the chapter house of Durham cathedral, was a more up-to-date monument. Such coped grave-covers were fashionable among the Anglo-Scandinavian inhabitants of York (Pattison 1973), but in form the Durham one is like the tenth-century grave-cover from Ramsbury, Wiltshire (Kendrick 1938, pl. 99). The animal-headed terminals with small pointed ears are also found in southern contexts as well as on Sockburn 8. However, whoever the carver of the Durham grave-cover was, he could carve the Northumbrian interlaces with a calm hard competence. There is nothing in his style of the uncertain ornament lines of the St Oswald's cross, and yet some of the same patterns are found on both monuments.

It is perhaps significant that after Ealdhun's death in 1018 the see of Durham was vacant for two years, until Eadmund was elected and consecrated at Winchester in the presence of the king and Wulfstan, archbishop of York. For the first time it seems as though one of the Chester-le-Street/Durham community had made significant contact with the reformed church of the southern English. Eadmund took the monastic habit and, calling at Peterborough on the way back to Durham, he obtained the services of a monk, Aegelric, to instruct him in monastic usage. Aegelric then joined the community at Durham. One can see a new style reflected in several of the Durham possessions. Aycliffe — which Ealdhun together with his daughter Ecgfrida had granted to Uhtred, earl of Northumberland in 997 — has crosses that seem to blend the earlier with the new traditions (Coilingwood 1927, 79). The new ideas seem to have affected even the competent Anglo-Scandinavian carvers in Teesdale.

Deriving from this new phase at Durham are a group of cross-heads also discovered in the foundations of the Romanesque chapter house (nos. 5–8). The shape of the heads is a traditional Northumbrian type but they show an extraordinary medley of motifs and a new type of figure carving. Interlace is banished to the edges of the arms, and figural scenes fill the broad faces. Crucifixion scenes, popular in Northumbria since the late seventh century, are surrounded by groups of clerics (nos. 6–8). The idea of inserting monks or clerics into the picture may have come from contemporary southern manuscripts. The iconography of the Agnus Dei (on nos. 5 and 8) is also the developed form, later than that of the ninth-century Hart cross (no. 7). The symbols of the Apocalyptic beasts which surround the Lamb (on no. 5) are elaborately winged, but Matthew's is clothed in a short Anglo-Scandinavian tunic like the Aycliffe/Gainford 'saints'. Nevertheless there does seem a conscious effort on these crosses to develop some liturgical themes, and the baptism on cross no. 7, with the bird (dove?) on one side linked to the Crucifixion on the other, extends the sequence. The scenes are variously combined but show increasing barbarization. Coatsworth (1978b) suggests that on no. 8 the scene is not Christ crucified but Daniel, but the beasts which flank the figure could well be no more than a reflection of the revival of interest in animal ornament which dominates northern art in the tenth to eleventh century. On the shafts the old inhabited plant-scrolls can be found together with the Scandinavian Great Beast and serpent.

It is possible to speculate as to whether some of the scenes had a dual significance. In the first stages of assimilating Scandinavian and native English traditions it is clear that dual significances could be stressed (p. 31, Sockburn 21). The late Durham school assimilated the motifs of the Anglo-Scandinavian schools of north Yorkshire, but in it there is an extraordinary tenacity in maintaining the earlier English traditions of sculpture, in both the form and the style of the monuments.


21. Such plant-scrolls with the same distinctive trefoil leaves occur in continental manuscripts such as the Dagulf Psalter, fol. 67v ((——) 1965b, pl. 54).

22. The distribution of Scandinavian place-names has been discussed and linked with the wapentake of Sadberge by Victor Watts. He notes an area 'between Barnard Castle in the West and Hart in the East', as the most Scandinavianized (Watts 1970, 258–61).

23. These illustrative sculptures have been discussed in relation to Norse mythology and legend most thoroughly by J. T. Lang who relates them to the Gotlandic stones and Cumbrian sculptures such as Gosforth (Lang 1972).

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