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The Rothbury Cross: An Iconographic Bricolage

Jane Hawkes
Gesta
Vol. 35, No. 1 (1996), pp. 77-94
DOI: 10.2307/767228
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/767228
Page Count: 18
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The Rothbury Cross: An Iconographic Bricolage
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Abstract

The surviving fragments of the Rothbury Cross (Northumberland) have long been recognized as outstanding pieces of Anglo-Saxon stone sculpture, often being compared with the more substantial monuments at Ruthwell (Dumfriesshire) and Bewcastle (Cumbria). However, apart from isolated studies of one or two scenes, the iconography of the Cross has been largely neglected. This aspect of its decoration is examined here, with attention to both the iconographic models employed and the potential significance(s) of the scenes concerned. This analysis suggests that most of the (surviving) figural scenes were based on Late Antique and early Christian prototypes which were adapted within a Northumbrian context to suit specific theological purposes, purposes which are largely canonical and orthodox, but in some cases are fairly complex. In the light of these conclusions and the relationship between the Rothbury Cross and other Northumbrian sculptures, the conventional "Carolingian" dating of the monument is reconsidered, and a date in the second half of the eighth century is proposed.

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