Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Taphophile Tragics



I think this is the Viking Cross in the churchyard of St Mary's Church, Gosforth, Cumbria, England. I hope it is. I also think the photo was taken through the window of a passing bus. Researching the church, its a great shame I didn't get off the bus.

One of the most historical churches in the area, with Viking monuments known worldwide, with a Norse Cross in the graveyard depicting the victory of Christ over the Heathen Gods. Two 10th century 'Hogback' tombstones inside the church cover the graves of Norse Chieftains and are shaped as houses of the dead, and are carved with battle scenes. There are delightful carved faces on the chancel arch, and a Chinese iron bell on the western window sill. There is a Viking 'fishing stone' and some curious old collecting boxes. The graveyard contains a cork tree planted in 1833, the most northerly in Europe. The tool-shed built of stones from the original church, is now a listed building.

The Cross is 14 ft high, the tallest Viking cross in England and second in importance only to the Bewcastle Cross. With the hog-back tombs inside the church, it was carved around 940 AD.


It is unique among English Viking crosses, not only in size and complete survival, but in the quality and detail of its carving. The lower part of the Cross which is round represents the ash tree Yggdrasil which the Norse men believed supported the universe. The upper portion is square, each side capped with the triquetra, symbol of the Trinity.

For more taphophilia please visit Julie's Taphophile Tragics.

12 comments:

Jim said...

Very interesting post.

NixBlog said...

So many layers of history one can uncover in the "old world", Ann. Whenever I visit places like that, I try to peel back the layers and find evidence of "Stuff" that's older and older than what one started to look at.

Sondra said...

WHat a stately looking chruch and graveyard..the old Viking Cross is awesome!! I would love to see that Cork Tree..wow.

Peter said...

Magical, another great overseas capture, thankyou.

Gemma Wiseman said...

Even the tool shed has a place in history! What an amazing place! Would I love some time wandering there with camera in hand!

JM said...

The place seems kind of abandoned and that makes the old grave stones look even more beautiful! Wonderful shot.

biebkriebels said...

The cross is very impressive and so beautiful carved indeed, it almost looks like a giant tree.

Deb said...

Great atmospheric photo that is so typical of a small English churchyard. The sandstone has weathered well considering it a around 1000 yrs old.

VioletSky said...

Amazing that this has stood for so long! It looks so slender and intricately carved.

Francisca said...

A beautiful "drive by" capture! What an interesting cross. I'd be miffed at myself for not getting off the bus too, after learning all that history. LOL!

CaT said...

wow! its so tall!
i like the pic. funny how you sometimes are too lazy to check something out while there, and then regret it when back home....

Julie said...

I tried to comment yesterday, but Blogger would have none of it.

This will teach you, yes? Always get off the bus! Look at all that wonderful stuff you missed. And also, did you get a new camera around about this time. This shot is such a better quality than the shots from timbuktu or South America even.

Good to see you occasionally go to normal places ...