Volume VI | Chapter 6 | The SchoolsNext Back to catalogue index
by James Lang, with a contribution by Rosemary Cramp



This large group of crosses, most of which were discovered in excavation at Whitby Abbey in the 1920s (Peers and Radford 1943, 33–46; Stopford 2000, 101), could well represent the earliest three-dimensional stone crosses of Anglo-Saxon England. As a type they are largely confined to the headland at Whitby, the majority having been discovered close to the external walls of the standing thirteenth-century north transept of the abbey (Cramp 1976a, 228; id. 1976b; id. 1993, 68–71, fig. 7.1). The excavations did not extend to the south of the Gothic abbey church (Fig. 19), and whilst several crosses carry inscriptions (see John Higgitt's commentary in Chapter 7) none can be associated with the royal burials of the Northumbrian house of which Bede gives an account (Bede 1969, 292, iii.24; see Chap. 2).

The crosses are monoliths with rectangular-sectioned shafts and free-armed cross-heads (Ills. 897–1020). Their ornament is minimal, often restricted to a fine edge moulding, although there are subtle variations in these mouldings across the series: some single, some double, and a few cabled. The only surface decoration is an occasional chevron placed near the base of the shaft. The dressing of the stone is well-nigh perfect, with an extremely smooth finish that was probably achieved with an abrasive stone, and the condition remains superb in many examples. Since the crosses are often broken but unweathered, even on a north-facing coastal headland site, it is more than likely that they stood indoors, perhaps in a porticus like that referred to by Bede in his account of the royal mausoleum at Whitby (loc. cit.). Some crosses enjoy the silkiest of dressings on three faces whilst the reverse broad face has a slightly rougher surface, or even no edge moulding to match the principal face (e.g. Whitby 11, Ills. 935–9). This is a sure indication that such crosses stood against a wall.

The cross-heads are of two main types: one with wide curving arm-pits and straight tips, the other with squared tips (see Fig. 10). In other respects the two types are virtually identical, so it does not necessarily follow that one form is later than the other. They could easily be contemporary. The chronology of the crosses is further complicated by the epigraphy of those which carry inscriptions. John Higgitt has shown on historical grounds that the floruit of the monastery ran from the seventh to the mid-ninth centuries, and that the diversity of scripts on the crosses reflects the same extensive time span (Higgitt 1995, 234; and see Chap. 7). There is no decorative carving on the monuments to provide art-historical evidence for dating, and the simple forms of the crosses offer no chronological clue. If the surviving inscriptions and epitaphs are contemporary with the manufacture of the crosses, a handful of letter forms provide the only dating limit. Nos. 20 and 21 (Ills. 964, 970) can be attributed to the later seventh to mid-eighth centuries on such grounds (ibid., 233). The meagre evidence from the worn inscriptions of nos. 23 and 24 (Ills. 978, 982), however, point to a later eighth- or early ninth-century date (ibid., 234). All four of these inscribed cross-heads would on stylistic grounds belong to the Whitby Plain Cross group, yet their inscriptions speak of almost a century's divide between them. Two explanations can be offered. Firstly, assuming that the inscription is contemporary with the making of the cross, the Whitby series enjoyed a very long life as a fossilised type. There are only two outliers beyond Whitby: North Otterington 4 (Ills. 698–702) and Wharram Percy 5 in eastern Yorkshire (Ill. 1194; Lang 1992, 43, no. 17, fig. 22). It is conceivable that the type was confined for the most part to the Streanæshalch monastery and that it became a tradition unsusceptible to change or outside influence. The geographical location of Whitby may have contributed to such conservatism. Indeed, there are other examples in Insular art of similar undeveloping pockets of local styles. Secondly, it is possible that the epitaphs were originally painted on the smooth surfaces of the crosses in the earliest period: late seventh to early eighth centuries. As the pigment wore off over the years, then the inscriptions might have been renewed with incisions which had a longer hope of survival. This would explain nos. 23 and 24 as refurbished monuments, an early example of conservation dictated by the growing pilgrimage cults. The crosses may even have been reused over new burials.

Further evidence of the group's early date lies in the immaculate dressing of the smooth faces, which is also found in the stelae series from York Minster (Lang 1991, 18, 60–7). They also share the taste for inscriptions and ascetic decoration, as well as often having a fourth face less finely dressed which no doubt faced a wall. They too were indoor monuments, to judge from the state of preservation, and those with incised saltire decoration (Minster 11 and 12: ibid., ills. 44–7, 48–51) echo the restrained chevrons of Whitby 2 and 4 (Ills. 900–2, 903–6). Both the York Minister stelae and the Whitby Plain Crosses look to Continental models, especially in north-eastern Gaul in the area of Chelles, a centre associated with Hild and her monastery (Cramp 1993, 69–70). Despite the monastery's origins in Lindisfarne and ultimately Iona, Whitby's view turned increasingly towards the European continent, obviously so after the Synod when it remained an important training ground for bishops (see Chap. 2). The Plain Cross series, with its York and Gaulish connections, is a manifestation of Whitby's role in the emerging English church. The crosses are also in tune with the austere, simple life of the community at Streanæshalch as described by Bede: the tombstones do not reflect hierarchy either in embellishment or epitaph, an aesthetic to be expected in a double house where individual property was eschewed.

It has been proposed that the crosses may have derived from wooden prototypes (Cramp 1993, 69), and it is possible that such models were present within the monastic precinct, for one of the socket stones, no. 56 (Ills. 1096–8), has a mortise slot so narrow that it would easily have supported a tenon of plank-like dimensions but not a weighty stone version. The socket is unadorned but was found in an Anglo-Saxon context during the excavations (Ill. 1095). The more elaborate socket, no. 55 (Ills. 1088–94), was adjacent to it, and its mortise is more sizeable and capable of holding a stone cross. Its decoration is minimal, only four corner columns, and matches the Plain Crosses in spirit.


Two early pieces at Northallerton, the shaft no. 1 (Ills. 662–4) and the cross-head no. 5 (Ills. 672–6), with continuous chevron mouldings, probably parts of a single cross, have stylistic parallels at Ripon in a cross-head (Collingwood 1915, 233–4, figs. a–c) and an altar pillar (Cramp 1974, 136, pl. XXIII a, b), but more interestingly also at sites in Bernicia and Cumbria (Bailey 1996b). This is by no means a local Yorkshire school. Jarrow nos. 8 and 9 (Cramp 1984, 109, pl. 93, 497–9), a new piece from Hexham (Ill. 1192; Cambridge 1995b, 108, fig. 33), Carlisle 3 (Bailey and Cramp 1988, 86–7, ill. 210), and Heysham (Collingwood 1927a, 95, fig. 128) have close similarities. It would be rash to choose any one of these sites as the progenitor of the group, and prudent to view them as evidence of lively cultural contacts between Northumbrian monasteries of the eighth century (Cramp 1974, 136). There are clear links with the designs of contemporary fine metalwork, notably between the Northallerton cross-head (Ill. 672) and the Ormside bowl (Ill. 1196; Webster and Backhouse 1991, 173, ill. 134), a medium whose portability may account for the spread of the style. Whether it be the model provided by an object or an itinerant sculptor, the sphere of influence was not bound by the river Tees as it was at the end of the century and into the early ninth, when Deiran sculpture had more in common with Mercia than Bernicia.


The most inventive sculptor in the region was undoubtedly the carver of Cundall/Aldborough 1 (Ills. 160–84), Masham 1, 4 and 5 (Ills. 597–631, 632–4, 635–8), and West Tanfield 1 (Ills. 889–92). The sites are all close to the river Ure in the Mashamshire area, none of them far from Ripon though that city has so far yielded none of the Uredale master's work. A mark of his innovative skills lies in the diversity of form in the shafts of the three monuments: respectively rectangular, columnar and slab-like in section. That he was not hidebound by a particular form is a warning that the shape of monument is not always a reliable criterion for attributing a carving to a particular workshop. There is strong technical evidence within the group to support the proposition of a single hand. Richard Bailey's discovery that the scenes of Samson carrying off the gates of Gaza on the Cundall shaft (Ill. 167) and the Masham pillar (Ill. 615) were constructed from a common template demonstrated a mutual source (Bailey 1996a, 114). Samson moves in a different direction on each monument but this is due to the template being reversed; there is a perfect match of size and outline. Within individual monuments a similar reversal of the template is apparent: the exotic quadrupeds at the base of the Masham pillar, each occupying an arch of the arcade, are often mirror images of each other (Ills. 625–31), as are the animals of face A of West Tanfield 1 (Ill. 889); and the pairs of confronted beasts on Cundall/Aldborough 1 (Ill. 180–1), whilst sharing a panel, are probably the result of template reversal. A second technical rather than stylistic feature held in common is the unit of measure, which unusually is three-quarters of an inch (2 cm), when the full imperial inch was much more widely used. The stems of the plant-scrolls and the narrow mouldings are three-quarters of an inch wide and other motifs have dimensions which are multiples of that unit. Thirdly, use of the drill is uncommon in the region, confined to this group and Croft 1 (Ills. 147–51). It is more clearly seen in the pierced pellets of face C of Cundall/Aldborough 1 and in the eyes of the animal ornament (Ills. 162, 182). The stylistic unity is underpinned by these technical features. The ornamental repertoire is conventional enough, deriving from eighth-century crosses such as Ruthwell and Bewcastle: formal interlace, inhabited plant-scrolls, and animals with Mercian relations (see Chap. 5). It is what the Uredale master did with these conventions that sets him apart; yet whilst there is experimentation, especially on Cundall/Aldborough 1, the layout is governed by a strict axial symmetry. Formal interlace panels are confined to Cundall/Aldborough 1 where they alternate with plant-scroll panels in the normal fashion (Fig. 14; Ills. 160–1, 163, 181). The strand is rope-like and in high relief, like the stems of the neighbouring plants, but the patterns are distinctive in having in some cases extremely angular bends and bar terminals springing from straight lines, whilst the asymmetrical loops in the centre are treated almost as concentric circles (Ills. 168, 170, 181). Nonetheless, by way of contrast, a panel of face D carries a series of limp loops (Ill. 178) which have much in common with the fluid lines of the cross-arm Masham 4's plant-scroll (Ill. 632).

The plant-scrolls are designed on a severely geometrical base, with axial symmetry. The leaves and berry bunches are few, serving as terminals and fillers to the spandrels of the medallions. The effect is often to convey the fauna as perching or striding through interlace rather than organic growth. On the West Tanfield and Cundall/Aldborough monuments the stem encircles a single creature like a roundel (Ills. 178, 889), the plant serving as a loose frame rather than a living vine in its own right, in the manner of some of the Breedon friezes (Clapham 1927, pl. XXXIII; Jewell 1986, pl. XLV). Sometimes the plant is nothing other than a vegetal extension of the creature's tail or legs, very much in the manner of an late eighth-century ivory, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum (Beckwith 1972, no. 8, ill. 23; id. 1974, no. 7). Both Masham 1 and Cundall/Aldborough 1 employ small bush vines of a rigidly symmetrical design (see Chap. 5). They are never inhabited and tend to fill oddly shaped spaces like the spandrels of the lowest arcade at Masham (Ills. 597–603) and the cruciform panels of face C of Cundall/Aldborough (Ills. 162, 182). Such plants are fairly common in Mercian sculpture, for example at Fletton, Huntingdonshire (Clapham 1927, pl. XI, fig. 4), and other parts of Yorkshire; though they are much rarer north of the Tees. The tips of the shoots often have a volute tendril which can double in some of the animals as a termination to the tail (Ill. 177). The strands and stems of all the plant-scrolls are finely modelled and rope-like, identical with the cutting and dimensions of the formal interlace strands.

The animal ornament is often organised axially, either as confronting beasts within a single panel, like face B of Cundall/Aldborough (Ill. 181), or as paired adjacent mirror-image panels, like the lowest register at Masham (Ills. 625–31). The creatures always display all their legs, whatever the posture, and are well modelled, especially on the haunches and proud chests. For the most part they belong to the menagerie of late eighth- to early ninth-century beasts of Yorkshire and Mercia, with much tapering of the limbs and neck, sometimes exaggerated, as at Masham, into baroque filiform extensions. Where the animals inhabit a plant-scroll, their proportions are naturalistic, often deer-like, but where they are placed within an uncluttered panel, like the arcade at Masham or face C of Cundall/Aldborough (Ills. 162, 182), they are more fantastic. The sculptor could reproduce the conventions, such as the 'Anglian lock', symmetrical pairing and the raised foreleg, yet at the same time experiment to the extent that at Masham the quadrupeds with their attenuated necks almost lose their heads in the fettering loops (Ills. 629, 630). Owing to the idiosyncratic stepped mouldings of face C of Cundall/Aldborough, the panels containing isolated animals are cruciform, resulting in contorted postures, though each creature is accommodated in a unique manner (see Chap. 5). The lowest of the group has interlace legs terminating in a large berry bunch with fluid loops, but the animal above is constructed almost entirely of straight diagonal lines set off by the vertical raised foreleg (Ill. 182). Above that the next beast treads composedly down the steps of the moulding, its round chest emphasised by an arc of a volute tendril (Ill. 174). The animal above is almost a parody of the latter, as it falls awkwardly over the steps (Ill. 173). The hints at the conventional details show that he was aware of the stock animal ornament of the period but, almost humorously, they are overshadowed by the ingenious postures. This is not clumsy carving (witness the angel on the same face) but a deliberate stylistic adventure.

Within the plant-scrolls the animals are never static. The quadrupeds are larger than those of the inhabited scrolls of Ruthwell (Bailey and Cramp 1988, ills. 686–7), Bewcastle 1 (ibid., ill. 91), York Minster 1 (Lang 1991, ills. 1–2), and Croft 1 (Ills. 147, 152). They rear through leafless stems, sizeable individuals like those of Heversham 1 in Cumbria (Bailey and Cramp 1988, ill. 351) or the more clumsy ones at Ilkley in the West Riding (Collingwood 1915, 195, fig. n). They prepare the ground for the inhabited scroll of York St Leonard's Place 2 (Lang 1991, ill. 369) where the animal dominates an equally leafless plant setting. These naturalistic antelope-like creatures, possibly derived from the antique image of such deer feeding from a tree, are juxtaposed on Cundall/Aldborough 1 with more fantastic beasts; some with leaf or berry terminals to the tail, others, like the pair on West Tanfield 1 (Ill. 889), with griffin-like wings. The more usual termination to the tails, however, is the same neat volute that is seen on the bush vines; this is found on all three of the Uredale master's monuments. This is a period feature of the late eighth and early ninth centuries; for example it occurs on the Gandersheim casket (Smith 1923–4, 235–6, fig. 2; Beckwith 1974, 19, no. 2) where there is a similar taste, though in a different vein, for bush vines and animals encircled by their body extensions. The volute tip also occurs in the animal ornament of the Canterbury Bible, BL MS Royal I. E. VI, fol. 4r (Wilson 1984, 95, ill. 103), and very similar entangled animals to the Uredale master's can be seen in the Incarnation Initial of the Codex Aureus, fol. 11r (Nordenfalk 1977, 106, pl. 38; Wilson 1984, ill. 113). He was clearly aware of current fashions in Yorkshire and Mercia, and of a variety of media.

The Mercian relationship, not necessarily a source, is exemplified too in the use of arcades with figure carving within them. Elsewhere in Yorkshire this is found on Hovingham 5 (Lang 1991, 146–8, ill. 494) which is closely related to the Masham column in style, and it is ubiquitous in the East Midlands, for example the Hedda stone in Peterborough and the panel at Castor, Northamptonshire (Cramp 1977, 213–14, fig. 57b and c). Like that on Hovingham 5, the Masham arcade is filled with historiated scenes, one of which (as noted above) is repeated on Cundall/Aldborough 1 in a rectangular panel on the same face as a scene showing the Raising of Lazarus (Ill. 180). It has been argued (Lang 2000, 113, fig. 9.6) that the Masham column with its historiated arcades derives from Late Antique or Early Christian models like the two westernmost pillars of St Mark's ciborium in Venice (Ill. 1198), and the Lazarus scene has a parallel on a sarcophagus in San Lorenzo in Rome as well as on a fifth-century diptych in Milan, repeated on a ninth-century ivory in the Victoria and Albert Museum (see Chap. 5). There is no doubt that the Uredale master was in some measure familiar with Continental trends, especially in the revival of Early Christian motifs, or that his patron commissioned designs drawn from such early European sources.

The figure carving is unfortunately greatly worn and there is little evidence of drapery. At Masham it is difficult even to identify some panels (see Chap. 5), though the line of Apostles has the same slightly attenuated form as the figures of Hovingham 5 (Lang 1991, 146–8, ill. 494), and the miniaturist quality of much early ninth-century sculpture in Mercia and Yorkshire (Cramp 1978a, 8). A particularly close Mercian parallel for the half-profile busts of angels on Cundall/Aldborough 1 (Fig. 14; Ills. 164, 172) is found at Fletton, Huntingdonshire (Clapham 1927, pl. XL, fig. 2).

The unique stepped border of face C of Cundall/Aldborough 1 (Ills. 162, 182), with its pierced pellets, is another example of the sculptor's innovative approach. The trick of piercing the pellets of a border was perhaps more easily accomplished in ivory carving than in stone, as it is seen in a contemporary Anglo-Saxon ivory of the Last Judgement (Beckwith 1972, no. 4, ill. 1; id., 1974, no. 5). The stepping has no sculptural analogue, but in one of the canon tables of BL MS Royal I. E. VI there are panels of interlocked triple steps which echo the Uredale master's usage (Wheeler, H. 1977, 243, fig. 68). His sources extend to contemporary designs in other media in England, as well as the European models reflected in Masham 1.

There is one monument at some distance from the river Ure which is very probably by the Uredale master's hand: this is one of the shafts at Ilkley in the West Riding (Collingwood 1915, 189–90, figs. e–h). Its paired animals and birds are cut in the style of Cundall/Aldborough 1, and the drill is employed in the same way for their eyes. Their body extensions also loosely fetter the torsos in roundel-like circles, and the tips of the tail terminate in a neat volute (Ill. 1169). Collingwood's comment on the plant-scroll of this shaft is significant: 'not so conventionalised' (ibid., 190). This is the hall-mark of the Uredale master, in that he uses the current established repertoire of motifs but handles them with originality. If the Ilkley piece is his, then questions are raised about patronage and the possible relationships of estates in two Yorkshire dales.


This 'school' was first identified by W. G. Collingwood (Collingwood 1913a), in which he discussed the difficulty of dating pre-Conquest sculpture before 'something in the nature of a "corpus" of the crosses has been made', but '... it may be worth while inquiring what can be learnt from a single class, large enough to cover a considerable area geographically, and to show development over an appreciable period, but limited by the appearance of one recurring feature or motif' (op. cit., 168). This motif occurs in relief form in north Yorkshire and Cumbria, and he gave it the name 'lorgnettte' or 'spine-and-boss'. At a later date, Richard Bailey in a discussion of the Cumbrian examples added the name 'cruciform head-pattern' (Bailey and Cramp 1988, 33–6, fig. 7).

Collingwood was probably right to suggest two names since there is a difference in the motifs found on Northallerton 5 (Ills. 672–3), Carlisle 4 (Bailey and Cramp 1988, ill. 214) or Lancaster (Bailey 1996b, fig. 6e), where the central cross is spine-like, ending in a lobed boss, and the type as at Ripon (Collingwood 1915, 234, fig. c), and later Forcett 1 (Ill. 250) or St Bees 1 (Bailey and Cramp 1988, ill. 551) where the cross terminates in a spectacle form (ibid., fig. 7), whilst at Stainton 4 (Ill. 748) and Aberford (Collingwood 1915, 130, figs. c, e) the 'spectacle' terminals contain additional crosslets. Collingwood also noted three varieties of the lorgnette: one in which the spine is a single line, not enclosed by an outer moulding, a second in which the spine is enclosed in a moulding and a third in which the moulding alone exists looped round the bosses (Collingwood 1913a, 168, and fig. on 170). As he notes, however, types could co-exist on the same monument. Despite the variety in form and the different associated cross shapes and ornament, which range from the late eighth century at Northallerton to the Viking Age at Forcett, it is clear that common models existed and it seems probable that the type found its first expression in stone in the northern Yorkshire region.

Collingwood plausibly suggested that the earliest example of the use of this motif on a cross-head was that on the shaft from Ripon dedicated to Adhyse the priest (Okasha 1971, 107, no. 102), since this is not a truly sculptural carving but incised like the name-stones from Lindisfarne and Hartlepool (see Ill. 1191). Nevertheless the influence of prestigious metalwork is also apparent in shaping the ornament on the earliest examples in high relief, such as Northallerton 5 (Ills. 672–3) or Lancaster (Bailey 1996b, fig. 6e). The bosses or circles at the end of the spines could represent jewels. The late seventh-century disc brooches from Kent have a basic design of five cabochon garnets (Bruce-Mitford 1974, fig. 52e), although not joined by spines, and such gold and garnet jewellery was also known in north Yorkshire but in a form much closer to the stone motifs, as is exemplified by the now lost example of a pendant cross with gold filigree arms, and inset with four cabochon garnets, which is recorded as found near Catterick Bridge in the mid nineteenth century (London, Society of Antiquaries, Way Collection, MS 700 III/5, f. 8).

The strong link with fashions in Anglian metalwork continues into the early ninth century in the development of the lorgnette group, as demonstrated by two of the silver brooches from the Pentney hoard, Norfolk, which have a single bar joining the bosses in each arm terminal (Webster and Backhouse 1991, 229–30, cat. 187c, d). This type is reflected in stone in the new cross-head from Whitby (no. 19, Ills. 961–3) and the shaft at Forcett (no. 1, Ill. 250).

Collingwood's idea that the development of this motif emanated from Ripon (1913a, 169) could be supported by the early relationships of that house, since the initial land-holdings included land around the Ribble and the Dent (Colgrave 1927, 36–7), and this could account for the spread of the motif on Cumbrian crosses. The newly discovered cross-head fragment from Whitby (no. 19), however, may argue that the lorgnette motif was more widely popular in the North Riding. The region in which the motif survived alongside later ornament is however localised to north Yorkshire and Cumbria. This could be seen as an affiliation to the traditions of a long established ecclesiastical land holder or the influence of an important public monument. The former supposition is supported by the fact that Ripon survived as an important centre well into the tenth century, when, in 948, it is recorded that the minster was burnt by King Eadred of Wessex (Classen and Harmer 1926, 48; Whitelock 1979, 223). The Scandinavian settlers in Cumbria and north Yorkshire must have received their Christian teaching from some centre, and if this was Ripon it may have been seen as support for the enemy by the Wessex king.

Within the area covered by this volume, Northallerton 5 stands alone as reflecting a wider fashion, and could be dated to the first half of the eighth century; the new Whitby 19 cross-arm is too fragmentary to form firm conclusions, but the quality of its carving might put it into the late eighth to early ninth century. Like most other examples in this region the spine is set against a plain background. Only on Hauxwell 1 (late eighth/early ninth century) is the boss surrounded by interlace (Ills. 311, 313), as is common on the later Cumbrian examples. The 'enclosed' lorgnettes of Gilling West 3 (Ills. 272, 274) and Great Ayton 3 (Ills. 306–7) are so similar that they may be by the same hand, and the Stainton 4 and Aberford, West Riding, pieces in which crosslets are added to the lorgnette are also a closely related regional variant (Ill. 748; Collingwood 1915, 130, figs. c, e). At both Forcett 1 and Upleatham 3 the lorgnette motif occurs alongside ornament which is clearly of the Viking Age (Ills. 250–1, 827–30), and so demonstrates the continuing popularity of local Anglian tradition into the tenth century.



Allertonshire is a triangle of lowland stretching from Northallerton to the river Tees, and bounded on each side by the Cleveland Hills and Dere Street (Fig. 2). A group of sites centred on the prolific collections from Brompton, Kirklevington and, north of the Tees, Sockburn (Cramp 1984, 22, 30–1, 135–44), has produced distinctive carvings with many common features. Examples of the group also occur at Northallerton and Kirby Sigston near Brompton; Croft and Wycliffe in the Tees valley; Hawsker near Whitby; and Baldersby and Birdforth south of Thirsk. North of the Tees, as well as Sockburn, there are examples at Dinsdale and Hart in co. Durham (ibid., 64, no. 5; 93, no. 1). All the sites lie within easy access of the Roman road no. 80a (Fig. 3; Margary 1967, 432). The workshop served a large area of north Yorkshire, greater than that of the Middleton atelier in Ryedale (Lang 1991, 41), and certainly beyond parish or small estate boundaries (see Fig. 11).

The pieces are united by their geology, being cut from fine grained sandstone (see Chap. 3). This easily workable stone lends itself to drilling, deep chiselling and modelled relief, seen especially in the figure carving, and gives the pieces a distinctiveness that contrasts with the flat planes of much of Ryedale's Anglo-Scandinavian sculpture to the south-east. The Allertonshire shafts tend to have the slightest of tapers and a small squarish section, possibly determined by the bedding of the raw stone.

A peculiarity of the group is the broad edge and transverse moulding which can form a kind of cage around the shaft, and, almost as a trademark, the top corner of the moulding is locked by a ring (Bailey 1980, fig. 49), a feature exclusive to this workshop (e.g. Ills. 37–8, 404–7, 668–71). The principal and reverse faces of the shafts are usually divided into squarish panels containing two kinds of ornament: densely woven closed-circuit interlace, its strands built around a deeply drilled grid of hole points, and, secondly, isolated human figures or animals framed within the panel. This lay-out is something of an innovation in the county, and contrasts with the Anglo-Scandinavian schools in York and Ryedale, where the long, uninterrupted panel was favoured both in the York Metropolitan school (Lang 1991, 39–40) and in the city's hinterland. That habit evolved from ninth-century Anglian monuments in Yorkshire, for example Melsonby 1 and 2 (Ills. 654–61) and York St Leonard's Place 2 (Lang 1991, 109–10, ills. 369–72), so the Allertonshire carvers turned to a fresh model. Along with the abandonment of the long panel, the fashionable beast-chains of sculpture lying not far to the south also seem to have been rejected.

Many figural high crosses in Ireland have faces positioned in this way: for example, the Cross of the Scriptures at Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly, and Muirdach's Cross and the West Cross at Monasterboice, Co. Louth, and even smaller monuments, closer in scale to the Allertonshire shafts, like those at Duleek, Co. Meath (Harbison 1992, i, 48–53, 140–6, 76–8). Bearing in mind the Hiberno-Norse milieu of this part of Yorkshire, as its place-names indicate (Smith 1928, xxvii–xxix), and the area's proximity to westward routes, such analogues in Ireland are worth pursuing. In particular Co. Kildare offers a number of parallels for Allertonshire features that have no English or Scandinavian analogues. Both North and South Crosses at Castledermot have panelled faces (Harbison 1992, i, 37–41, ii, figs. 101–10) derived from local models, but the narrow side of the North Cross carries an uninterrupted run of ring-twist (ibid., fig. 102), a pattern unique to this example in Irish sculpture but very common throughout Allertonshire (Chap. 5). It is also worth noting that Castledermot has the only hogback in Ireland (Lang 1971, 154–8), a monument type whose origins of which lay in Allertonshire (see Chap. 4).

The Allertonshire workshop was first identified by template analysis (Bailey 1978b, 180) which revealed that the helmets of Brompton 3 and Sockburn 5, co. Durham, not only matched each other perfectly (Ills. 38, 1189), but also matched the birds of Brompton 3 and Kirklevington 3 (Ills. 39, 408) (Bailey 1978b, 184–5; id. 1980, 252; Lang 1986a, 248). This discovery linked three important sculpture sites. Further work in fine measurement analysis on Sockburn 5 demonstrated that the templates were used in association with an underlying regular grid which controlled the size and proportions of the figure carving (Lang 1984b, 43–6, fig. 2). The templates, if they were indeed used, were of geometrical shapes like semicircles, with the same unit of measure as the grid. It would have been equally possible to have constructed the motifs by constructional geometry and compasses, even with string (Lang 1986b, 154–5, 159–60).

Fine measurement analysis was also undertaken on Brompton 3 in this region (ibid., 154–5). Using a datum line suspended down the axis of each face, ninety-one measurements were taken between edges of motif and surviving fix-points by Dr Pauline Dalton and the author, the dimensions being double checked. This shaft (Ills. 37–40) was particularly useful since it retains several inverted cone-shaped fix-points which are aligned. The unit of measure is the imperial inch, often working in registers of five or ten inches and sometimes broken down into quarter inches. Most panels have designs based on a vertical grid of one-inch squares, though the plant-scroll lies on the diagonals of ten-inch registers marked by the tips of the pointed leaves at the edge. Some of the aligned fix-points survive even on the defaced face A, recognisable by their conical sections (Bailey 1996a, fig. 61), and they line up with the cavities within the locking rings on the edge moulding which determined the borders. The birds of face C are composed entirely of elements of one inch or multiples thereof.

Kirklevington 2 (Ills. 404–7) was also subjected to such analysis. There the hole-points of the closed circuit interlace pattern lay on the interstices of a grid of rectangles two and a half inches wide, and one and a quarter inches high, though the figure carving and mouldings work on a unit of one inch. There is also evidence in the interlace panels of a tapered grid, carefully controlled to the quarter inch. There are other pieces at both Kirklevington and Brompton which have a one-inch unit but are not from the Allertonshire workshop. It may be significant that this unit of measure was also used by sculptors of high crosses in Co. Kildare, especially at Castledermot where the Allertonshire workshop practice of splitting the unit into halves and quarters is found on both the North and South Crosses. In view of the iconographic links between Co. Kildare and Allertonshire (see Chap. 5), it is quite possible that the method of laying out the designs at Kirklevington, Brompton and Sockburn derived from that Irish source, especially since there are so few Anglian models in the neighbourhood which might have informed the workshop (Lang and Henderson forthcoming).

Formal patterns used by the Allertonshire workshop include the S-twist or Como-braid (Cramp 1991, xliii, fig. 26 D.iv), constructed round gridded hole-points. There are examples of the motif being copied locally without the control of a grid, for example the shaft Brompton 4 (Ill. 42), a piece which shows how the workshop influenced contemporary sculptors in the area. The S-twist is less popular in other parts of Yorkshire, but the Allertonshire workshop used it widely on the sides of shafts. What appear to be closely woven basket-plaits, again constructed on a regular grid, are often ring-knots or twin-links with saltire strands. This is a response to the small squarish panels of the lay-out. Such ring-knots are well known in a wide range of Anglo-Scandinavian carving across the north of England and are diagnostic in attributing the workshop's products to the tenth century.

The animal ornament of the small panels is distinctive. The creatures stand and adopt rather static but naturalistic poses. Stags and dogs predominate, without any of the body extensions or fettering of Anglo-Scandinavian beasts elsewhere in Yorkshire, notably Ryedale. The beast-chain, so popular in eastern Yorkshire and York (Lang 1991, 35), was not attractive to the Allertonshire workshop. Single animals within square frames are, however, a feature of some Irish crosses, notably the high cross at Moone, Co. Kildare (Harbison 1992, ii, figs. 516–17, 519), not far distant from Castledermot. The proportions of the creatures and the modelling of their carving are very similar to the Allertonshire examples.

The figure carvings, usually of warriors but also one notable secular civilian (Kirklevington 2A, Ill. 399), are plastic and sculptural, verging on the half-round. Rosemary Cramp has noted the similarity of their technique to Irish figures (Cramp 1972, 147–8). They occupy the panels in the same way as the single beasts, with considerable space around them. This sculptor did not suffer from horror vacui like so many of the Ryedale school (Lang 1991, 40). The warrior portraits belong to the same tradition as the Middleton and Weston figures (see Chap. 5) but their high relief and smooth modelling distinguish them as carvings of quality.

The Allertonshire workshop is indeed part of the Brompton school (q.v.) and some cross-heads from the area may have belonged to the shafts discussed above.


This Anglo-Scandinavian school is notable for its variety and for innovation in its sculpture. Brompton is the most likely candidate for the place of origin of the distinctive recumbent monument type, the hogback (Lang 1984a; Cramp 1991, xxi). There is considerable variety in the typology of the hogbacks, even within Brompton itself, types a, c and d all being represented (see Chap. 4 and Table 2), though all but one favour large, naturalistic end-beasts, sometimes with two legs, others with four. There is also a noticeable range in the quality of the carving: a comparison of nos. 17 and 20 (Ills. 82–3 and 88, 90) not only warns against proposing a stylistic evolution but also demonstrates that more than one sculptor produced pieces for the site. Undoubtedly the most accomplished hogbacks of the Brompton school are the very naturalistic nos. 17 and 18 (Ills. 84–5) which are designed on grids, and the cutting is sure and controlled in its modelling. The sprawling end-beasts of no. 20, on the other hand, almost supine and pot-bellied, may be a crude copy of no. 16 (Ills. 79–81). The 'extended niche' type, no. 21 (Ills. 92–3), has an exact parallel in Sockburn 16, co. Durham (Cramp 1984, 141, pl. 142, 759–60), surely by the same hand, and it echoes the connection between Sockburn and Brompton that has been established in identifying the Allertonshire workshop (see above). A further example of local copying extends the range of the Brompton school towards the Hambleton Hills: no. 22 (Ills. 94–5) is a roughly hacked version of the stylish 'niche' type hogback, Ingleby Arncliffe 4 (Ills. 335–6). Given that hogbacks flourished for only some thirty years during the Hiberno-Norse ascendancy in north Yorkshire, the degree of experimentation and eclecticism in the hogbacks of the Brompton school is noteworthy. But it is interesting that two principal sites representing the school, Northallerton and Kirklevington, have so far produced no hogback. Fig. 8 displays the extent of the school's hogbacks.

The interaction of sculptors in the Brompton school, and the diversity of their expertise, are also observable in the cross-shafts. The Allertonshire workshop's examples are discussed separately above. Here it suffices to point to shafts like Brompton 4 and 5 (Ills. 41–3, 44–7) where the panelled layout, solitary animals, portraiture, and ring-knots and twists, are akin to the Allertonshire workshop's designs, though less deftly cut and often based on a different unit of measure. Kirklevington 1 and 4 (Ills. 400–3, 412–15) are similar reflexes within the school to the workshop pieces at the site, utilising motifs also found on the finer, gridded shafts like Brompton 3 and Kirklevington 2 (Ills. 37–40, 404–7). It may be tempting to see the poorer quality sculpture from the Allertonshire area as following in the wake of the innovative workshop, but the differences are more likely to be qualitative than chronological.

The cross-heads of the Brompton school possess a unifying motif: the 'Brompton loop'. This is a continuous strand which forms in each limb a simple pattern F element with a pair of included U-bend terminals in the corners (see Fig. 12). In some cases the pattern is determined by a diagonal grid: for example, Brompton 10 and 12 (Ills. 55–7, 62–5). In others it is carved free-hand, with sometimes lop-sided results. The strand can be well-modelled or flattish in section and can differ slightly in width from its parallels. Not all Brompton loops match with template exactness, though a few do, perhaps owing to the use of a grid. At Brompton the eponymous loop occurs on nos. 1, 2, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13; also on Kirklevington 19, Northallerton 6, 7, 8 and 9, and Kirby Sigston 5. North of the Tees Sockburn 11 belongs to the group (Ill. 1190; Cramp 1984, 139–40). Many an Anglo-Scandinavian cross-arm is filled with U-bend terminals but the Brompton loop is confined to the examples cited here, except for a solitary outlier on Brigham 7, Cumberland (Bailey and Cramp 1988, ill. 152), and so may confidently be regarded as a motif diagnostic of the Brompton school.

The loop motif appears upon a variety of cross-head types, and may well have been used by the Allertonshire workshop. Brompton 9 and 10 are ring-heads, of each type (Ills. 51–4, 55–7), while Brompton 1 and 2 are plate-heads (Ills. 30–2, 33–5), which is the most common cross-head class within the school (see Cramp 1991, xiv, fig. 3). The loop is also found on a free arm, Northallerton 9 (Ills. 685–6), which with the addition of a plate would be identical with Brompton 13 (Ills. 66–70). The motif easily accommodates to the range of cross-arm shapes in the school: for example, the straight-sided wedges of Brompton 10, the curving parabolas of Northallerton 9, and both straight-tipped and convex cross-arms. The diversity of cross-arm shapes should not be underestimated; a factor which allows for these similarities to be grouped as a school but not necessarily a workshop. There was some experimentation in the design of the cross-heads, and there is less conformity than might be supposed. Brompton 12, for example, has an upper limb which is longer than the lateral arms, with the consequence that its knot is given an additional symmetrical loop (Ills. 62–5). The sweeping curves of Brompton 13 and Northallerton 9 are indicative of a cross composed on a circle with arcs, like some earlier pieces from the Anglian series, whilst the truncated triangles of the arm-pits of Brompton 10 with straight-sided edges to the limbs have no vestige of curve or parabola. Bailey has demonstrated that some of these cross-heads share the same parabolic curve in the arm-pit, at sites including Brompton, Kirklevington and Northallerton (Bailey 1978b, 183, figs. 9.10, 9.11; id. 1980, 240–1, figs. 70–1). He postulated that a mechanical device might have been used, rather like some employed in earlier manuscript production. Since the curve is a parabola it is unlikely that compasses were the mechanical aid; a suspended chain, however, would normally produce a catenary curve. Such is the variety and such is the range of possibilities for making curves for the cross-heads of the Brompton school, that it would be too adventurous to postulate a particular workshop rather than a local fashion. There are fashions of technique as well as ornament and the 'Brompton loop' and the arm-pit curve need not have belonged exclusively to a single sculptor or his atelier.

The form of the shafts within the Brompton school is less varied than that of the cross-heads. Most are of rectangular, even squarish section with the slightest taper. The two crosses, Brompton 1 and 2 (Ills. 30–2, 33–5), however, in their uncarved extremities and their use of pendant vandyke panels have echoes of round-shaft derivatives (see Chap. 4). It is possible that these crosses served as upright end-stones to hogbacks and that the plain bases of the shafts accommodated the decorative carving of the recumbent elements, as in the case of the 'Giant's Grave' at Penrith, Cumberland (Bailey and Cramp 1988, ills. 494–5). This raises the problem of the relationship between the standing crosses and the hogbacks at sites such as Brompton and Sockburn (Lang 1984a, 97). Further fine measurement analysis, currently being undertaken by Susan Harrison, will no doubt clarify the issue in the future, and recognise hands for the hogback series (see Pettengel 1994). A further difficulty is the result of the breakages between shafts and cross-heads. At the time of writing it is impossible to match any of the loose Brompton school cross-heads with their original shafts. A consequence of this is that none of the Allertonshire workshop shafts has a head that can be confidently attributed to it. Quality of cutting might be the only criterion available, in which case either Brompton 9 or 10 might have crowned Brompton 3 (Ills. 37–40, 51–4, 55–7), but that remains speculative.8

The Brompton school is represented at the three major sites of Kirklevington, Brompton, and Sockburn north of the Tees, all of which have produced monuments from the Allertonshire workshop which must be seen as belonging within the school. However, there are monuments, especially at Kirklevington, which are not expressions of the school. There are idiosyncratic motifs and iconography that relate directly to sculpture in Co. Kildare, Ireland, rather than to the local groups (Lang and Henderson forthcoming). It is the variety of Allertonshire sculpture that is most striking, as are its innovative qualities. In this respect the Brompton school differs from the Ryedale school to the south-east, for there the form and decorative repertoire remain quite limited, with adjacent workshops asserting their differences only in the minor details and flourishes of the ornament (Lang 1991, 40–2). In the Brompton school there are indeed common factors, such as the large end-beasts to the hogbacks and the loop of the cross-heads' surface decoration, yet there is much more diversity and originality, especially in form.

The distribution of pieces from the school stretches from Allertonshire to the Tees and just beyond it, and southwards along the valley of the river Wiske (Fig. 11). It does not extend into Cleveland and, perhaps surprisingly, it produced nothing for nearby sites where sculpture of the Anglo-Scandinavian period is abundant, like Stanwick, Gilling West and Forcett (Fig. 5). There may be implications here for the patronage and estate patterns of the area. The popularity of the plate-head and ring-head in the school matches that of adjacent areas in the North Riding, though unlike Ryedale (Lang 1991, 30, fig. 6), there is no particularly local form. The ring and the plate are indications of a date after c. 920 when the form was introduced from the Celtic west (Bailey 1978b, 178), perhaps more specifically from Ireland, into a region with a strong Hiberno-Norse settlement (see Chap. 4).


Lythe, at the crest of the bank rising from the northern end of Whitby strand, has nearly forty Anglo-Scandinavian monuments, many of them hogbacks. Whilst two early Anglian pieces show that the site had stone buildings, no doubt belonging to the Whitby monastery (see Chap. 4), it contrasts with the abbey site in vastly outnumbering the southern headland's few Anglo-Scandinavian gravestones. This suggests that Lythe was the principal cemetery for Viking-age settlements in the Whitby strand area. The features of its monuments are peculiar to Lythe and form a workshop group within the tightly local range of hogbacks at the site: one element is the 'enriched shrine' hogback form, type k (Lang 1984a, 101, fig. 9; Cramp 1991, xxi, fig. 6, i), and the other is the series of plain cross-slabs which served as end-stones to them. Composite groups of recumbent and upright monuments are known from the York Minster cemetery (Lang 1991, 28), and the 'Giant's Grave' at Penrith, Cumbria (Bailey and Cramp 1988, nos. 4–9, ills. 494–5) where hogbacks and standing crosses were employed together (Chap. 4). The Lythe workshop produced stumpy plain crosses of type 8 (Cramp 1991, xvi, fig. 2) which very probably stood against the undecorated angular gable-ends of the type k hogbacks (Bailey 1980, 99, fig. 14). The crosses enjoy slight variations but belong as a group, with no parallels from other sites in Yorkshire. They are Lythe nos. 9 to 16 (Ills. 498–531). The hogback group comprises Lythe nos. 17 to 23 (Ills. 532–47, 552, 557). Every part of their long sides and roof pitches carry decoration in panels, yet the vertical gable-ends are unornamented. The angle of the gable's pitch is often echoed in the angles of the upright cross-heads (cf. Ills. 503, 534), so that originally the composite arrangement would have conveyed a finial-like termination to each end of the shrine skeuomorph.

Another characteristic of the workshop is the taste for fleshy strands in interlace, which often has an openness in its weave. There is also a distinctive fleshy twist on some of the hogbacks, for example, no. 19 (Ill. 533), which is repeated on the shaft no. 1, faces B and D (Ills. 464, 466). The backward-looking beast of no. 23 (Ills. 532–3) is drawn from the same template as that on face A of shaft no. 1 (Ill. 463), and therefore must be from the same workshop. The wrestlers on that face have no Northumbrian parallels, though there are close analogues on some Irish high crosses, such as Durrow, Co. Offaly, and the Market Cross at Kells, Co. Meath (Harbison 1992, ii, figs. 258 and 331). Apart from a type k hogback at Easington nearby (no. 8, Ills. 234–5), the workshop did little to influence sculpture outside Lythe.


Though clearly carved by a single hand, this small group is so crude in design and cutting technique that its sculptor hardly merits the title 'master'. It comprises four pieces, distributed through lower Wensleydale: Coverham 1 (Ill. 125), Masham 3 (Ills. 645–8), Spennithorne 1 (Ill. 746) and Thornton Steward 2 (Ills. 793–6). The more complete shafts at Coverham and Spennithorne are possibly Christian in their iconography, perhaps a Fall scene, but since the whole group has a predilection for serpents such conventional interpretation may not be appropriate. The orans position of the principal figure, flanked as it is by others with a single raised arm, may be nothing more than a way of filling the maximum amount of space. This is perhaps true also of the serpents which dangle freely about the figure on Masham 3 (Ill. 646). Whilst the snakes are associated with and in proximity to the humans, they do not attack them, nor do they entangle themselves. Hell is an unlikely image for a funerary monument, and given the general incompetence of the carving it is possible that the snakes are simply decorative fillers. The Masham and Thornton Steward figures are phallic, a rare feature in any pre-Conquest carving, and the facial details of all are delineated by a deeply incised U-shaped incision suspended from deeply drilled eyes, the diagnostic detail of the whole group. The oddly acrobatic posture of one of the Thornton Steward figures has a parallel in Ryedale on Kirkbymoorside 1 (Lang 1991, 154–5, ill. 514), where it was designed from the same template as the Middleton warriors (ibid., 41). That such a posture should appear in an otherwise conventional series in Ryedale might suggest that the Thornton Steward image reflects a more widespread usage and significance, but it is difficult to reconcile the contortions of naked men with the patently Christian iconography of the rest of Yorkshire's Anglo-Scandinavian carvings, unless the theme is indeed Hell.

The group is an oddity and in eschewing conventions such as edge mouldings, panels and the accepted repertoire of Anglo-Scandinavian ornament, its individuality defies complacent stylistic classification.


7. The section on the Lorgnette or Spine-and-boss group was written by Rosemary Cramp.

8. John Senior's analysis of the stone types, undertaken subsequently (see the catalogue entries), does not support the author's suggestion here, if head and shaft were carved from the same stone: only the cross-head fragment Brompton 15 (Ills. 75–8) is the same stone type as no. 3., though no. 12 (Ills. 62–5) is similar. No other clear links emerge from this analysis. (Eds.)

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