Volume 8: Western Yorkshire

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Current Display: Aberford 2, West Riding of Yorkshire Forward button Back button
Overview
National Grid Reference of Place of Discovery
Present Location
As Aberford 1a–b
Evidence for Discovery
See Aberford 1a–b
Church Dedication
St Ricarius
Present Condition
The upper and side arms of the head are missing. All faces have sustained wear and damage.
Description

The shaft is rectangular in section, but slender in comparison with Aberford 1. Interlace and other outline strands are rounded and well cut. The broad faces have a narrow rounded moulding on the vertical edges, which continues around the armpits of the head. The edge moulding is visible on the narrow faces of the shaft, but terminates in a horizontal flat moulding at the top. Background surfaces are dressed flat, but fairly roughly. The cross-head is free-armed.

A (broad): The cross-head is decorated with a 'spine-and-boss' cross motif. The centre is a shallow raised boss quartered by an incised crosslet and outlined by a raised roll moulding. The arm in relief is visible on the right. The lower arm terminates at the top of the shaft in another raised boss also with an incised crosslet. The arms and surviving terminal boss are surrounded by a continuous fine roll moulding. The shaft has the beginning of a register of interlace, double-stranded half pattern F with a bar terminal at the top.

B (narrow): The surviving part of the armpit is completely plain. The shaft has one register of interlace, simple pattern F with a cross- joined terminal, with the emerging diagonals forming a glide before the next register.

C (broad): The cross-head has a 'spine-and-boss' cross motif as on face A; here however the small centre boss is surrounded by a double ring. The arms and the terminal boss are the same as on A. Below the cross Collingwood (1915a, 130, fig. c) drew a small animal with a bird-like head on the right, with an incised round eye and pointed beak reaching to the base roundel of the cross, and on the left an interlacing element ending in a frond-like feature, as a three-toed foot of the same beast. The feature on the right can be read to show an incised roundel or eye, with its 'beak' present but more blunted than Collingwood drew it. That on the left does appear to be a fringed element incorporating a twist: it could be an extension of the same horizontally disposed beast, although the joining between the two elements is not as clearly present as Collingwood implies; or it could be part of a paired beast with its tail or hind foot uppermost. The right-hand element could also possibly be interpreted to show a feature ending in a small tight curl. In that case some kind of scrolled ornament might have been present, but it is impossible to speculate as to how this would have developed. The ornament on the other faces is notably regular and balanced.

D (narrow): One register of half pattern F with cross-joined terminals, with a glide extending to the next missing register. This side is more worn than face B.

Discussion

Collingwood (1915a, 131) considered the 'spine-and-boss' ('lorgnette') motif in general 'late Anglian' and in particular thought that this cross-head could have had the extended upper arm known as the 'hammerhead' form. He therefore dated this head AB or AC, which implies a late ninth- to tenth- or even eleventh-century date. The 'spine-and-boss' motif has a long pre-history, taking into account its appearance on the name-stones from the early monastic sites at Hartlepool, co. Durham and Lindisfarne, Northumberland (Cramp 1984, pls. 85.447, 199.1113, 199.1115, 199.1116, 200.1122), which date from the seventh to the eighth century. The motif appears on cross-heads at Ripon (1 and 2, Ills. 632, 639) which can also be dated to the early eighth century. A cross-head from Stainton in north Yorkshire has a lorgnette in which terminal bosses exhibit both incised and raised crosslets, for which only a broad date between the ninth and eleventh centuries could be proposed (Lang 2001, 200, no. 4, ill. 748). A stone from Gainford, co. Durham, with which Collingwood (1913, 173, fig. 20) also associates this cross because of the moulding surrounding the spine, has been dated to the first half of the tenth century (Cramp 1984, 85–6, no. 16, pl. 67.327). The proportions of the Aberford head and the fine-stranded and regular interlace, however, all suggest that this piece is earlier than Aberford (St Ricarius) 1. The fragment of scrolled or animal ornament is too small to provide much additional information, but could be linked to late Anglian developments of these motifs. The fact that the stone is not from the immediate locality also separates it from the other two pieces at this site.

Date
Probably late ninth century
References
Collingwood 1912, 119, 128; Collingwood 1913, 173, fig. 22; Collingwood 1915a, 131, 281, figs. c–f on 130; Collingwood 1915b, 333, pl. on 330; Collingwood 1927, 97, 98, figs. 116.22, 121c–f; Richards 1991, 121; Lang 2001, 43, 44, 200
Endnotes
[1] The following are general references to the Aberford stones: Morris 1923, 549; Mee 1941, 17; Pevsner 1959, 69; Ryder 1993, 135.

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