Volume I | Chapter 4 | Sequence of OrnamentNext Back to catalogue index
by Rosemary Cramp, University of Durham

As an aid to the discussion below and as a summary of information in the Catalogue, a Form and Motif Table can be found on pp. 253 ff.

PLANT-SCROLLS (Grammar of Ornament, pp. xxiv, xxviii, and figs. 10–13)

Plant-scrolls are a distinctive feature of early Northumbrian sculpture and betray Mediterranean or near eastern contacts or models. As Collingwood saw, in the early period there seem to be separate ornamental traditions for the inhabited and uninhabited plant-scrolls, although such centres as Jarrow and Escomb used both schemes. It is probable that, when first introduced, the vine-scroll had an unambiguously didactic role in representing Christ in the Eucharist,14 and it may be theologically significant that one group at Hexham employed the vine-scroll as the only ornamental motif and eschewed figural ornament. Possibly here the vine-scroll is to be seen as a symbolic representation of Christ.


A group of crosses which have a medallion scroll on the broader face and a spiral or simple scroll on the narrower is plainly centred on Hexham and along the Tyne valley. The Hexham scrolls are carved in a distinctive finely cut style with delicate modelling of detail, which on Hexham 1 is reminiscent of embossed metalwork.

Hexham 1 bears the most delicate and inventive of all the Northumbrian scrolls. Its berry bunches are well-shaped and triangular, while the main stems and the tendrils (bearing fruit or leaves) are twisted and knotted in medallions on the north and west faces, and on the south face in a springing spiral way that no other sculpture achieves. The fine lines of the strands without swelling nodes are only elsewhere found at Lowther, Westmorland (Cramp 1974, pl. 20A–B), although other details of that scroll are not like Hexham 1.

Hexham 2 and Stamfordham 1 have well-shaped berry bunches and neat cutting of the stems which shows plenty of clear background. The medallion scrolls on the broad faces as well as the running scrolls with drop leaves on the narrow faces are closely similar. Stamfordham also reflects links with Hexham 3 through the tangled composition of the medallion on the broad face. On this cross, however, we find the motif rendered in a heavy deeply cut style which, although it perhaps originates in Jarrow, becomes a more generalized Northumbrian manner. The stems have ridged nodes, triangular leaves with heavily stylized veins and a rosette type berry bunch. Such rosette-like bunches are also found at Simonburn, Nunnykirk, Escomb, Jarrow and Rothbury and are later developed into more flower-like shapes at Falstone.

The Hexham scrolls which spread, probably in the late eighth century, west of the Pennines (to centres such as Lancaster and Heversham, Westmorland) survive as a ninth-century form at Irton, Cumberland. In the east, perhaps the latest manifestation of this school is to be seen on Falstone 1, which could be late ninth century in date.

The supposition that the heavy Roman style of carving (pp. 26–7) developed at Jarrow is supported by the octagon (no. 22), the base of which was sealed by the floor of the monastic refectory (building A in Cramp 1969, 46, fig. 19), and on which the scrolls have the same heavily veined leaves as Hexham 3, and split stems as in the Cumbrian group, such as Lowther (Cramp 1974, pl. 20A–B) and Heversham (Collingwood 1927, 36, fig. 47). Both at Jarrow and Escomb, however, there are considerable variations in plant details. In uninhabited scrolls, these centres favour scrolls with split stems, long triangular leaves and triangular berry bunches. Their inhabited scrolls, likewise, are deeply cut but have small leaves and trilobed berry bunches in their tangled stems.

The plant-scroll on Norham 1 seems also to develop from the tangled deeply carved scrolls of Jarrow, and it could be that the Hulne Priory fragment should be attached to the same group, although it is too small to be used for any definitive statement. The crosses with fine spiral scrolls at Nunnykirk and Simonburn (no. 1) exhibit variations from the earlier Hexham groups in that they have both inhabited and uninhabited scrolls. The sprawling weak plant-trails on the cross-head from Hart (no. 7) seem to be a pale copy of more vigorous Deiran monuments, such as are found at Masham and Lastingham.

We know that in Early Christian art different styles of vine-scroll could coexist in the same monument, and for the English carvers, the motif seems to have been used with the same experimentation as interlace or any other geometric motif. In the ninth century there seems, however, a tendency to formalize the scroll into strictly concentric spirals, either in simple or side linked scrolls.15 Norham and Escomb formalized in a different fashion with deeply indented leaf-flowers and leaves. The late ninth- to early tenth-century scrolls tend to become leafless and stiffer in both the inhabited and uninhabited forms. At Hart, Jarrow, Chester-le-Street and Billingham scrolls lasted into the period when Anglo-Scandinavian motifs were adopted. Survival of this motif in the south-eastern part of co. Durham may be because it was strongly rooted in the Jarrow workshop which is one that influenced the Chester-le-Street group. It is certainly noteworthy that there are no belated scrolls in the Hexham neighbourhood, where they were initially so popular.

INHABITED SCROLLS (Grammar of Ornament, pp. xxiv, xlvi)

Despite the fact that BrÃ,ndsted thought that this pattern was 'side by side with the plain vine with no animals, the all prevailing motive in the North of England' (BrÃ,ndsted 1924, 31), it is of relatively rare occurrence when assessed in relation to the known corpus of Northumbrian sculpture. Nevertheless it is found on high quality sculpture and is an important theme in confirming relationships and reflecting stylistic change.

However, none of the Bernician scrolls closely resembles the botanical vine. The nearest types — the sprawling scrolls with naturalistic birds and beasts and little naked boys from Hexham (no. 21) — are either very close copies of the provincial Roman treatment of the motif, or are of provincial Roman manufacture themselves. On the whole, the inhabited vine-scrolls, like the uninhabited plants, have adapted their arrangement and details to Insular shapes and tastes. There is a tendency, as Brondsted first pointed out (ibid., 47), for the inhabitants to become more important than the plant, so that the plant details diminish in size and variety, but this development cannot be closely dated.

The scrolls at Jarrow, in particular on cross-shaft 2, the friezes with birds (no. 19), and with hunter and gripping beasts (no. 20), are closely linked with the great crosses at Bewcastle (Cumberland), Ruthwell (Dumfriesshire) and Jedburgh (Roxburghshire) (Pls. 264; 265, 1428–9). These scrolls contain bipeds, squirrel-like quadrupeds, gnawing, gripping beasts and naturalistic thrush-like birds. The tiny fragment with a biped from Edlingham is also part of this group, and serves as a geographical link, at least, between Monkwearmouth/Jarrow and the cross at Rothbury, where the inhabited scrolls are very similar in foliage but with larger-scale quadrupeds and bipeds, which have more obtrusive and stylized body patterning. The Rothbury scrolls, however, are possibly as much as fifty years later than the others (p. 222).

A separate, and most probably later, development than the Jarrow group is to be found at Simonburn and Nunnykirk. Here the birds and leaves merge together in the pattern and the same mannerism, together with the taste for 'ivy' leaves, can be seen at Croft in the Tees valley. This treatment of the motif becomes popular in metalwork in the eighth and early ninth centuries, for example on eighth-century sceattas; the Witham pins (Wilton 1964, pl. 18); and the Gandersheim casket roof (ibid., pl. 1). The inhabited scrolls from Tynemouth (no. 1) have been left out of the discussion, since, although the motif clearly existed on that cross, and seems to have been an elaborate composition of birds, beasts and animals, the details are so worn that no close relationships can be demonstrated.

The quadrupeds of the Auckland St Andrew (no. 1) scroll, with their patterned bodies, collared necks and bumpy foreheads, can be compared with the Strickland brooch (ibid., pl. 43) or animals in southern English manuscripts such as British Library Royal 1. E. VI (Kendrick 1938, pl. 66). The Escomb (no. 1) scroll also reflects more southerly metalwork fashions in the scalloped feathers of the bird, its spiral hip-joint and spindly legs. The combination of such animals with southern English plant-scrolls is also found at Norham (no. 14), and both Escomb and Norham compare closely with early ninth-century metalwork.

There are no inhabited scrolls to set beside the belated plant-scrolls on the Anglo Scandinavian fragments. It could be that the fashion for individual portrait animals superseded them. Moreover there is no evidence for the change to acanthus ornament which begins in the tenth century in Wessex. The late scrolls are leafless vestiges of the vine-scroll organization.

There are strange reminiscences of the inhabited scroll in the birds from Billingham (no. 7), and among the several revived features of the early eleventh-century Durham cross-heads is a man and a beast in a scroll (no. 7).

INTERLACE (G. I., pp. xxviii ff., figs. 14–26)

Interlace or plait is by far the commonest ornamental form used in Northumbrian sculpture and it seems to have reflected, in sculpture as in manuscripts, a versatility only equalled elsewhere in the British Isles amongst the Picts.16

There are no very rigid developments but one can see certain period preferences for individual pattern groups, and changes in styles from the rounded, well modelled, closely packed strands of the very early period to the late humped or grooved strands. The pattern lists provide a catalogue of types and it seems best with such a common and complex motif to group together patterns and styles when indicating period and regional groupings.

The earliest group of interlaces, associated with architecture and sculpture of the seventh to eighth century, falls into two sub groups: a delicate, fine-stranded type with a small unit measure, and a more robust strand which can include irregular unit measures.

The first is characteristic of Monkwearmouth work. Here a distinctive type of encircled pattern F is found on four architectural fragments. Adcock (1974, 68) compares this pattern with the Book of Durrow, fol. 85v — where the same concave pointed patterns are made by the joining strands; she further points out the similarity of such patterns to some in Pictland not only in the unit measurement but in the pattern type. It seems possible that the early interlaces at Monkwearmouth were closely linked, like the ribbon animals, with Insular manuscript ornament, but such encircled patterns with angular links could also derive from Italian influences.

As well as this distinctive pattern the early Monkwearmouth work includes simple pattern E in an equally small unit measure. This pattern is also found in southern Scotland at Jedburgh and Thornhill, Dumfries, and occurs again in a larger unit measure in ninth- to tenth-century work at Norham, Rothbury, Tynemouth, Aycliffe and Durham.

Three fragments from Hexham (only one of which survives) also have a delicate, fine-stranded interlace. The surviving fragment (no. 12), which could be a cross-base, uses pattern C with outside strands delicately cut but awkwardly spaced at the corners. This and the wider spacing of the strands distinguish it from Monkwearmouth work, but it, the lost shaft or architectural fragment (no. 30) and the centre-piece from Hexham cross-head 9 seem to belong to a tradition which is reflected widely in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria. It is also notable that fine line work is only found on one Hexham cross — Hexham 1.

Also from Hexham, and possibly earlier than, or contemporary with, the three fragments discussed above, are some pieces which, like Jarrow, are carved in a heavier technique, in which the strands are wider and more deeply modelled as well as being closely packed. At Jarrow this style is found on the octagonal shaft (no. 22), which because of its archaeological context can hardly be dated later than the eighth century. The patterns it shows are simple or half pattern F and a terminal with a twisted loop, and in another panel a surrounded twist; such twists are found in manuscripts such as the Echternach Gospels, fol. 19r. At Hexham two pieces of string-course, nos. 36–7, and part of an impost, 38, have Carrick Bends, and linked and twisted patterns which are also like the Jarrow piece. Such twisted and linked patterns are more reminiscent of continental than English work but occur in manuscripts such as Durham A. II. 10, fol. 3v (Ã…berg 1947, iii , 64–138). Similar patterns are found in a less complex form on the Bamburgh chair and the cross at Yarm, Yorkshire, and provide a limited but interesting contrast to the commoner geometric interlace formed from the six complete pattern units, which was used in, the eighth to ninth century.

The intricate interlace designs which are found in the Lindisfarne Gospels are not reflected in any of the surviving sculpture from the island. However, there is on the earliest surviving cross-head (no. 18) a double-stranded pattern E of a type like that found at Bewcastle, and a pattern C with variations, also like Bewcastle, and Abercorn, West Lothian. The interlace panels on the Lindisfarne head, like the shaft (no. 1), are surrounded with a fine roll moulding, again like Bewcastle, Jedburgh or Abercorn. It seems, therefore, as though in north Bernicia fine-stranded complex interlaces, often with double strands, carved in a delicate modelled technique, reflect developments in Insular manuscripts. Adcock (1974, 181) sees a close resemblance between these carvings and the interlace panels in the Durham manuscripts B. II. 30, fol. 172v (Nordenfalk 1977, pl. 28), which has been ascribed to the latter half of the eighth century.

Complex patterns formed either by doubling the strands or by adding diagonals seem to be pre-Viking save in the group associated with the Durham revival. Lindisfarne and Alnmouth favour pattern A with added diagonals, Hulne Priory and Norham, pattern F. Pattern E with double strands is found at Lindisfarne, St Oswald's (Durham I), Great Fame, Tynemouth 1 and 3 and on the Durham grave-cover (no. 11). However, it is significant that this complexity is given to pattern E, which is a pattern type especially favoured in this area in late work.

The complexities favoured in eighth- to ninth-century interlaces in Deira, notably a taste for spiralled, surrounded or changing patterns,17 are reflected in this area but perhaps at a later date. Norham is a centre which appears specifically linked with Deiran patterns. For example, surrounded pattern F, which is popular in Yorkshire, is only found in Bernicia at Norham. Spiralled pattern A, however, is found at Lindisfarne, Alnmouth and Norton, while turned and spiralled patterns are found at Lindisfarne, Alnmouth, Chester-le-Street, Great Stainton and Sockburn (no. 8). It seems, therefore, as though this pattern was transmitted through the Lindisfarne group.

Encircled pattern C, which is the only encircled type which continues late in the period, also may have begun at Lindisfarne; it is found there on three crosses, but also at Norham, Alnmouth and Durham (nos. 1 and 11). Lindisfarne, Alnmouth and Tynemouth are also associated by their experimentation with forms in which E or F patterns are linked abreast, sometimes by a central twist.

Half patterns cannot be said to have a clear chronological value within this area although there are some localized trends; half pattern A is found at Chester-le-Street, Lindisfarne and Billingham. Half patterns B and C are only found at Norham, although they occur in lowland Scotland and in Yorkshire. Half pattern D is widely dispersed — at Billingham (no. 6), Durham (nos. 1 and 9), Hart (no. 9), Hexham (no. 30), Lindisfarne (no. 11), and Rothbury (no. 1). There are no examples of half pattern E, but half pattern F is found at Durham, Hart (no. 4) and Hexham.

There is little reflection, save at Norham, of some of the most popular features of mature Deiran interlace, such as is found at Easby, Otley or Croft, in which the strands are median-incised and the patterns change in the same panel. It is at Norham (no. 10) where one seems to find first the closed circuit type of pattern in which a sequence of circles is crossed by diagonals. This appears to be a type that begins in the ninth century and becomes increasingly popular in the Viking period. Closed circuit A, generally called free rings with single opposing diagonals, or ring-twist, has a familiar grouping: Aycliffe – three times; Chester-le-Street – twice; Durham once; Hart – three times; and Norham – once. Closed circuit B is not represented in this area, but C and its associated circling motifs, commonly known as ring-knots, are found at Jarrow – once; Durham – six times; Chester-le-Street – twice; Hart – twice; Lindisfarne – once; Gainford – once; and Woodhorn – once, while closed circuit D is found at Chester-le-Street – once; Durham – three times; Hart – once; Hexham – once; Lindisfarne – twice; Norham – once; Tynemouth – three times. Closed circuit F is found only at Hulne Priory.

The so-called split plait, which has such an extremely narrow distribution in south Durham between Jarrow, Chester-le-Street, Durham and Aycliffe, reflects this interest in more elaborate closed circuit patterns, but there are many examples of triquetra knots or those composed of two closed circuit loops. In later work there is also an increasing number of median-incised strands. The variant manifestations of the ring-chain device (Grammar of Ornament, fig. 26, cv–vii) are specifically associated with Scandinavian influence, since this motif is a hall-mark of the Borre style (p. 30). While the Como-braid (Grammar of Ornament, fig. 26, Div), although common in Italy from the early eighth century onwards, also seems to reflect Scandinavian influence in sculpture in this area. As well as the closed circuit patterns, panels of plain plait distinguish the late period in this area. It is a type which seems to have begun in good Anglian work at Jarrow and Lindisfarne, and specifically Rothbury, whose elaborate compositions are brilliantly surpassed in the fourteen-cord plait of Durham 11. However single panels of six- or eight-strand plait are very common in tenth- to eleventh-century work. A particularly competent, almost mechanical, type can be associated with an early Viking school in this area (Sockburn) and north Yorkshire. The strands are even, flat and strap-like and the hole points very strongly marked. It is a type found in the narrow panels of hogbacks in the Brompton part of Yorkshire, and also on crosses at sites such as Sockburn, Gainford, Billingham and Hart. The ambivalence of the late interlace traditions is perhaps best seen on Gainford 1, where in one panel a spiralled pattern with fine narrow strands changes into a flat-stranded plain plait, while another panel on this cross contains a split plait.

The extraordinary revival of a repertoire of earlier geometric interlace combined with competent execution of plain and split plait on the Durham grave-cover (no. 11) is a phenomenon that is difficult to explain save as a conscious reaction. On the whole, however, the free rings, ring-chains and the branching strands or loose, curling tendrils and interlace terminals which reflect Scandinavian taste in Cumbria and Yorkshire are rare here; save in the Tees valley. Elsewhere only Chester-le-Street provides examples of these new unruly types, as well as using spiral coils which could be a reflection of the Mammen style (nos. 7 and 11).

LINE PATTERNS (Grammar of Ornament, p. xlvi, and fig. 27)

The earliest straight line patterns, the chequers18 at Hexham, Simonburn and Bywell, and the triangular motif set within a circle, can be paralleled on the continent and in Roman art (Cramp 1974, 123). The sharply cut zig-zags edging Jarrow 8, 9 and 15 possibly derive from Insular metalwork prototypes such as St Cuthbert's cross. All these types of ornament, then, find their parallels in seventh- and eighth-century work.

The meander and step patterns seem to be a later phenomenon, since they occur in the tenth and eleventh centuries in association with Anglo-Scandinavian ornament, and only the Monkwearmouth fragment (no. 22) might belong to the ninth century. The incised saltire ornament at centres such as Corbridge and Gainford is found on forms of grave-marker which seem to span the Conquest and could well belong to the late eleventh century.


In comparison with sculpture in the truly 'Celtic' areas of Wales and Scotland, Bernician sculpture employs these motifs sparingly. However, they occur on four stones at Lindisfarne, and on crosses at Norham (nos. 5 and 13), Alnmouth and Chester-le-Street (no. 5) — sites which have attested historical and art-historical links with Lindisfarne. The patterns could either be derived from Insular manuscripts or from a stone carver's pattern book. Hurworth 1, Great Stainton 1 and Sockburn 8 represent interesting examples of the use of such motifs in the Tees valley, perhaps linked with the arrival of Hiberno-Scandinavian animal ornament.

FAUNAL ORNAMENT (Grammar of Ornament, p. xlvi)

The earliest example of such ornament that can be attested from a datable context in this area is to be found on the door jambs of Monkwearmouth porch (no. 8), built before 685–6, according to Bede (1896b, notes in ii , 362, 369). These are ribbon animals of a reptilian type, with long twisted bodies culminating in fish-like tails, and whose heads have elongated jaws in the form of slings and pointed almond-shaped eyes. Beasts such as those on the Monkwearmouth jambs are found at the same site on a slab fragment (no. 9), thought to be part of a closure slab. The only other creature of this shape and with a fish-like tail in the sculpture of this region surrounds the sundial at Escomb (no. 8b). These animals are markedly similar to those in some Hiberno-Saxon manuscripts such as Durham A. II. 17, fol. 2r, or the fragment of metalwork now in Bamburgh Castle. Such truly ribbon-like creatures whose bodies are not only extended but also of one width throughout, and interlaced, are also to be seen on the Great Fame shaft and the Bamburgh chair, and small fragments of what seem to be similar compositions are also found at Chester-le-Street (nos. 5 and 8) and on Bywell 1. On Durham 1, Tynemouth 1, Aycliffe 1 and 2 and Woodhorn 1 there are compositions of ribbon animals in which the 'beaked' heads of the Style II-type animal have been translated into birds' heads with crossing beaks. The heads of the animals on the sculpture from Aycliffe and Woodhorn have long head extensions which enmesh the body and, at Aycliffe, their bodies are pelleted, a feature which may have been copied from Scandinavian animal ornament.

The inspiration of Hiberno Saxon manuscript art no doubt also accounted for an elongated canine-type animal, with ear and tail extensions, found on Lindisfarne 1 and 2. The creature on no. 1, in a figure-of-eight formation, has a double-contoured body and long spindly legs and, save for the head, has clear affinities with the creatures on Tynemouth 4, Durham 1, and Aycliffe 1 (pp. 66–7). It is in fact mainly in the head type, and to a lesser degree in the composition, that one can distinguish pre-Viking from Jellinge-type animals. The fanged creatures with pointed jaws or twisted lips on Sockburn 8 or Haughton-le-Skerne 6 (p. 139) are markedly different from the Lindisfarne 1 canine or the bear-like creatures of the Bamburgh chair.

Nevertheless, there seems to be in this area a manuscript-derived tradition which survives almost to the end of the period. No doubt it was revitalized by contact with Scandinavian animal ornament, and it could be that the coiled serpents of Scandinavian type, such as that on Gainford 2 (with tail extended into interlace), were a more potent influence in the production of animal-headed interlace on such pieces as Aycliffe 2 or Lindisfarne 7 than Hiberno-Saxon manuscripts.

From the beginning, however, it seems as though there was also a tradition of naturalistic free-standing creatures whose origin is to be seen in Early Christian art on the continent. On the facade of the same porch at Monkwearmouth where the ribbon animals survive on the jambs, there was a procession of individual beasts in framed compartments. These could have been like contemporary work at Hexham (nos. 33–4), where a smooth-skinned naturalistic cow and boar were obviously architectural features of the early church.19 Other naturalistic creatures (almost in three-dimensional form as well as on a monumental scale) are to be found on the lion arm-rests from Monkwearmouth, or the head (no. 16), which is truly three-dimensional. Such work, however, is a rarity; on the whole the animals which occur are carved in low relief.

By the ninth century there was in this area a rich variety of beasts depicted on sculpture. The inhabitants of plant-scrolls have been discussed elsewhere (p. 16) and although they may have had some affect on 'free' animals, it is the fauna of southern English or continental manuscripts or their reflections in metalwork which probably contributed more to the crouching or rearing beasts which formed the beast-chains of Anglo-Scandinavian art (p. 29). Horses, hunting dogs and stags could have always been rendered in a naturalistic way, as in Pictish sculpture, but in this area they seem to emerge most strongly in the Viking period, when Anglo Scandinavian artists introduced narrative sequence on hogbacks, or what Kendrick aptly called 'portrait animals' on crosses such as Sockburn 7 or 8. The undisputedly Scandinavian styles of animal ornament are discussed on pp. 29–30.

FIGURAL ORNAMENT (Grammar of Ornament, p. xlvi)


More stress is usually placed on faunal or vegetable ornament than human figures as a means of producing localized groupings or a chronology of stone carvings. This is not inexplicable if one considers the relative frequency of these ornamental motifs in other media and that no extended account of the treatment of the human figure exists for either Anglo-Saxon or Viking art. It is possible also that human figures have been seen as so closely dependent on their antique or Early Christian models that it is impossible to use them to discern regional or period differences. This is clearly not so, but it is difficult to pigeon-hole figures into tidy stylistic compartments.

There is no metalwork from pagan graves in the north which uses figural compositions in the manner of the purse or helmet plaques from Sutton Hoo, Suffolk. Therefore nothing survives which indicates what was the pre-Christian background for this motif. The area was rich in rather poor Roman sculpture, in particular funerary monuments associated with the Wall forts, and these could have provided local models. The strange little bronze head from Lancashire (Ross 1967, fig. 71), together with the loose stone heads from British contexts (ibid., pls. 21, 23 and 28 a ), also provide a continuing native background influence.

By the time the whale bone box (the Franks casket) was carved, possibly c. 700 in Northumbria (Kendrick 1938, pls. 44–5), Classical, Christian and Germanic legends could be translated into a common stylistic idiom and it is worthy of note that the dress and armour depicted there appears to be contemporary. However, it seems plausible that the inspiration behind these scenes, in which each is complemented by a text, is to be found in imported illustrated books. Such works, contemporary sources such as Bede or Eddius tell us, were imported into Northumbria in the late seventh and early eighth centuries.

The absence of scenes from secular life, such as one finds in the hunting sequences of the Pictish slabs or on the bases of some Irish crosses, is noteworthy in this area before the ninth century. The figural inhabitants of the vine-scroll — hunters and archers found for example at Hexham, Jarrow and Auckland St Andrew — could have been interpreted allegorically and may reflect their Classical models. They are certainly to be viewed as distinct from the armed men in apparently contemporary dress that appear in the post-Viking period.


It is impossible to categorize the figure scenes from the area since there are so few representatives of each type. It is therefore according to the style, just as much as the iconography, that the figural panels must be grouped.

Those which can be identified as concerned with Old or New Testament themes can be related to a much wider illustrative corpus of manuscripts or ivories and sometimes are assignable to a specific stage in the iconography of the type. This applies most to the Crucifixion scenes, although it is clear that after the ninth century a Northumbrian type continued to be copied for the next hundred and fifty years in some centres.

The three earliest Crucifixion scenes from Northumbria — Hexham 19, Hexham 2, and perhaps Auckland St Andrew 1 — all have a robed figure of Christ, in the first accompanied by angels — as in Durham A. II. 17, fol. 38a v (Nordenfalk 1977, pl. 14) — and in the last two accompanied by the cup- and sponge-bearer. The figure of Christ is frontal, upright and, on Hexham 2, has his head slightly turned to the side. All the scenes are placed on the shaft rather than on the head of the cross. However, the Rothbury cross reflects an iconographic change, not only in using the cross-head so that it becomes a crucifix, but in showing a figure of Christ who seems to wear a loin-cloth and certainly is surrounded by the Instruments of the Passion. The treatment of this theme seems to be unique here (Coatsworth 1979, 205–7), although there are Carolingian depictions of the Instruments of the Passion surrounding an empty cross or the Lamb (Hubert, Porcher and Volbach 1968, 132, fig. 120).

Strangely, the stone crucifix, which seems to have developed in Northumbria by the mid ninth century, and which became popular in southern England in the tenth and eleventh centuries (Taylor 1966), does not appear at a later date in Northumberland. In Durham, however, at Hart (no. 8) and Billingham (no. 12) figures of Christ are surrounded by a frame in the cross-head. The late Durham cross-heads, with the exception of no. 8, set the scene of the Crucifixion on the head, but the head of the monument is not used as the cross of the Crucifixion. There is also, however, a continuing tradition, reflected on Alnmouth and Aycliffe 1, of the positioning of the Crucifixion scene on the shaft of the cross.

The figures which accompany the crucified Christ in the tenth and early eleventh centuries can still include the cup- and sponge-bearer, as at Alnmouth and Aycliffe, but the figures of Mary and John which were possibly found earlier at Auckland St Andrew (no. 1) are also found at Alnmouth and on Durham 7. At Alnmouth the accompanying sun and moon, which typically appear in Carolingian Crucifixion scenes, are also shown.

Occasionally the figure of Christ appears alone with arms outstretched, but without a cross behind him. This is a type which is found in Cumbria on the famous cross from Gosforth, and in this area on Bothal 2.20

The Rothbury cross is the only one surviving from this area which must have shown an extensive New Testament programme and its iconography seems very up-to-date and closely linked with that of Carolingian art. For example the Instruments of the Passion, the Ascension, and the crowd scene closely parallel illustrations in the Moutier-Grandval Bible, fol. 25v (Beckwith 1964, pl. 45). The Christ figure set against an architectural background also finds parallels in ninth-century England. Nevertheless the style of deep bold carving on Rothbury was established in the Northumbrian area several generations earlier (p. 115).

The Auckland St Andrew cross is less specific in its programme than the Rothbury one. Besides the Crucifixion, there may be an Annunciation scene in which the Virgin and the angel are depicted as frontal and closely placed together. This differs from the Annunciation on Norham 4 where the two figures are divided by an arch. Such architectural details, often meaninglessly used, become increasingly popular in the eighth and ninth centuries. On the Auckland cross the three-quarter-length figures holding books are depicted with a variety of facial types (pp. 37–8), and with some attempt to vary the position of the body and the angle of the heads. This taste for antique naturalism rather than a rigid frontality seems typical of the period from the late eighth to mid ninth century.

Although it is possible to assign some scenes to known biblical types, it is increasingly difficult to do so from the ninth century onwards. At Lindisfarne no figure scene can be definitely assigned to a common Christian type. The strange squatting figure in a circle (no. 3) could be a Christ in Majesty remotely connected to some model like the 'Majestas' page on the Codex Amiatinus (Weitzmann 1977, fig. 17) or a Christ in Judgement. It is even just possible that the scene could represent a Crucifixion.

Such ambiguity surrounds most of the figural carving in this area from the late ninth century to the Norman Conquest. Moreover during this period the picture is further confused by the introduction of secular or even pagan Scandinavian iconography. The battle scene on Monkwearmouth 7 could be a record of some contemporary or near-contemporary event, as could the procession of armed men on Lindisfarne 37. However, the battle scenes or the scene with the horn-bearing woman (possibly a Valkyrie) on Sockburn 3 and 6 could derive from Scandinavian religious or mythological tradition.

It is indeed style rather than iconography that serves best for characterizing and grouping the figural panels on these crosses. In the pre-Viking period it seems that a great many local styles of carving coexisted, although there seem to be some period fashions in iconography. One small group which shares a closely similar style of carving is the frieze with hunter from Jarrow (no. 20), the Rothbury cross, and Norham 4 (together with the Ruthwell cross). They are all carved in deep relief and the figures are rounded and well-proportioned. The figures of Christ are young, beardless and with long curling hair falling to the shoulders. The drapery, based on the Roman pallium or tunica, is conveyed in closely packed tubular folds. This type of round shouldered figure could be compared with the Lindisfarne Gospel portraits, such as St John, and that in turn has been related to the Roman sculptures of the Wall area (Kendrick et al. 1960, ii , pl. 19 ab ). Certainly there is something clearly in the Roman tradition in this style of figure and drapery, and this 'Roman style' seems to survive in Northumbrian sculpture and manuscripts throughout the eighth and into the ninth century. In manuscripts it may be seen in a more mannered way in David figures in the Durham manuscript B. II. 30, and in sculpture the softer folds of Ruthwell gave way to the angular bends and stiff flying folds of Rothbury. In fact although the general treatment of the figure is the same in these two last, the facial type at Rothbury, with its stiffly ribbed hair and deeply drilled and outlined eyes, is an innovation. It is clear that new models have been used, as the treatment of the crowd of little figures with hair bound in a 'Byzantine' fillet clearly show (p. 220). It is unfortunate that the head of Christ has been lost from the Rothbury Ascension scene, since the portion of the figure that survives seems to show, in the fluttering folds of drapery and the attempt to convey the shape of the figure beneath, a departure from the heavy voluminous folds of the 'Roman' manner. It is also unfortunate that the figures at Norham are so worn, for they also seem to reflect new styles of depiction of the human figure (no. 4).

In the midlands, at sites such as Breedon, Leicestershire, several styles of figural carving have survived which may be compared in their variety with Carolingian styles such as the New Palace, Rheims and Metz schools. There was, however, an earlier continental response to what has been seen as east Christian influences, as reflected in the Corbie Psalter (Hubert, Porcher and Volbach 1969, pl. 204), which finds an English counterpart in one of the Breedon groups. A similar style is reflected in our area at Auckland St Andrew (pp. 37–8). The carving is shallow and the details of the drapery lightly conveyed, but the facial modelling is skilfully rounded. The drapery is conveyed by flat thin ribbon-like folds, and the garments of the females have embroidered borders, while their hair is bound by a fillet and not draped with a stiff veil or hooded as at Ruthwell and Jarrow. There are several facial types: young and beardless with long curling hair; young and beardless but tonsured; bearded with long curling hair; or bearded with a cap. The bearded type of face is new in Northumbrian art, and new too are the varied postures and the way that the figures intrude upon their neighbours, so that part of the body is hidden behind another's, and as the two merge only one arm of each is shown. (This is an illusory technique which later becomes a mannerism in carvings such as Aycliffe 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 9 and Gainford 1 and 3.)

It is not certain at precisely what date the change came about in which figures were depicted not in some form of antique Classical drapery, but in contemporary dress. It is possible that this began with the non-divine figures in the biblical scenes, such as Longinus and Stephaton (the cup-and sponge-bearer), or the hunters in vine-scrolls, or even with secular scenes such as the Monkwearmouth combat-panel (no. 7). However, all the Lindisfarne figures, whether lay or religious, wear some sort of short tunic as do all figures in Anglo Scandinavian art. Only once again do we find an attempt to depict the voluminous Classical draperies and that is on the Durham cross-heads (nos. 5–7), which incorporate so many older models.

Figures with thick bare legs and wearing short tunics appear at Lindisfarne (nos. 8 and 37), Billingham (nos. 1 and 12) and Durham (nos. 5 and 14). These could well be related to some of the figures found in the 'Danelaw', notably the single warriors on Sockburn 5 and 7 (p. 30). The figural types of the tenth and eleventh centuries, particularly in the southern part of co. Durham and along the Tees valley, are remarkably varied; the Aycliffe/Gainford group have wedge-shaped faces, square shoulders and rather block-like bodies. They are usually depicted in a strictly frontal position. Another group at Dinsdale and Coniscliffe are smaller in scale and are usually shown in profile. The pair at Ovingham and Tynemouth also wear short belted tunics, but have rather egg-like heads and more sinuous bodies, and are found in both frontal and half-turned positions. Later figures are usually shown either in profile or rigidly frontal with feet out-turned, while the bust type, or three-quarter figure in relation to an architectural background, dies out.

Scandinavian figural iconography is further discussed below (p. 31). However, some specific types which seem to be direct Scandinavian borrowings or to reflect the direct influence of Viking and Viking-influenced figure types can be noted briefly. As well as the distinctive armed figures in profile on Sockburn 5 and 7 and Stainton 1, there can also be mentioned the horsemen holding spears on Sockburn 14, Gainford 4 and Hart 1. At Gainford the hair of the figure is tied in a knot which appears to be a Scandinavian style, while at Chester-le-Street (no. 1) the figure wears a different type of helmet from those at Sockburn, and holds a shield not a spear. Men bound or entangled in scrolls, a type also to be seen as Scandinavian-influenced, are found on the Sockburn hogback (no. 21) and at Gainford (no. 5), both in very different styles (pp. 83, 143). The lost Billingham figure (no. 1) also seems to have been fettered, and there is a late development of this type at Warden (no. 1).

On Lindisfarne 37 the procession of armed men have the same beaky profiles and prominent lentoid eyes as on the Chester-le-Street base (no. 12) and on Stainton 1. Their dress with short voluminous breeches is however different from that of any other figures in this area and, although not unlike Bilton, Yorkshire (Collingwood 1915, fig. on 140h), is most closely paralleled in Scotland at sites such as Barochan, Renfrewshire (Allen 1903, fig. 475).


14. See Grammar of Ornament, p. xxiv, where it is also noted that the plant-scrolls even on the earliest English sculpture bear little relationship to the botanical vine. It is possible that to Englishmen who were not very familiar with its botanical form any type of plant-scroll could signify the True Vine. In late sculpture of the Viking period, particularly in the horizontal spiral scrolls on hogbacks, the significance of the vine may have been lost altogether.

15. The side-linked scrolls or scrolls which are 'clipped' together have a long history in Christian art: see the marble column from Toulouse (Fossard, Vieillard-Troiekouroff and Chatel 1978, pl. 107).

16. The variety of interlace types in Irish and Welsh sculpture is much more limited (Henry 1933, 89–101; Crawford 1926, 25–38; Nash-Williams 1950, 44–5; O'Meadhra 1979).

17. Such patterns are found on the Ripon impost, the Easby cross and the Masham cross-head.

18. The Hexham chequers are probably directly derived from models at the near-by Roman site of Corstopitum, where such designs are frequently found. Otherwise this pattern is only found at Bewcastle.

19. I have elsewhere (Cramp 1974, 119–20) discussed these in more detail (and see p. 24). Possible parallels for these beasts can be seen in the terracotta plaques from Nantes (Costa 1964, figs. 53–9, 85).

20. An extended treatment of Crucifixion iconography in Anglo-Saxon sculpture can be found in Coatsworth 1979.

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