Scheduled Monument

Ruthwell Cross, crossSM90256

Status: Removed

Documents

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Summary

Date Added
31/12/1921
Last Date Amended
29/05/2003
Date Removed:
12/01/2018
Local Authority
Dumfries And Galloway
Parish
Ruthwell
NGR
NY 10059 68220
Coordinates
310059, 568220

Removal Reason

The Ruthwell Cross is within a securely curated environment and scheduling is not an appropriate mechanism to manage such an artefact.

Description

The monument comprises the Anglian high cross with runic inscriptions displayed within Ruthwell Parish Church, together with a loose fragment of the cross-head and a fragment of another cross. The Ruthwell Cross was first scheduled in 1921, but is being re-scheduled now because no adequate documentation can be traced from the time of the original scheduling.

The Ruthwell Cross was created in the early 8th century, during a period when the kings of Northumbria extended their rule west into the lands on either side of the Solway Firth, enlarging their original territory which stretched from the Forth to the Humber. The cross functioned as a preaching cross, which once stood near to Ruthwell on the Solway shore. The cross survives today as one of the most beautiful and sophisticated monuments of early medieval Christianity.

Traditionally, the original site of the cross is said to have been at Priestside (NY 102 662), on the Solway shore. It was standing in the church or churchyard when it was thrown down and broken in about 1642. The broken fragments remained in the church until some time after 1772 when they were again removed to the churchyard. In 1802 the cross was erected in the manse garden. In 1823 the cross was reconstructed in its present form: the cross-head we see today is largely the work of this restoration. The cross was moved to its current location in 1887 when the apse in which it stands was specially built: it was accepted into guardianship at this time.

The carving is of extremely high quality and, although influenced by designs from further afield, it is most likely to have been the work of local sculptors. It probably stood in the open air, outside a church that probably formed part of a small monastery. Its coherent scheme of Christian images and Latin texts shows how the cross would have served as a theological reference work and as an aid to contemplation for those educated in the liturgy. Recent scholarship has focused on the fascinating question as to why this sophisticated monument was sited in a distant borderland, rather than at a great centre of Northumbrian monastic culture.

The two broader faces have scenes illustrating the divinity and power of Christ, along with representations of the Holy Trinity, and the symbols of the four Evangelists, all within a ladder-like frame. The two narrow side faces are carves with panels of vine-scroll ornament, inhabited with birds and beasts, representing the theme of Creation. These panels are surrounded by runic text of an Old English poem, ?The Dream of the Rood?, in which the cross itself describes the events of the Crucifixion.

The subject of the scheduling is the Ruthwell Cross and the footings holding it in position, situated within the purpose-built apse, of Ruthwell Church (the apse and church are not included in the scheduling).

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as the finest example in Scotland of the Anglo-Saxon Jarrow-Monkwearmouth school of sculpture. The cross is considered to be one of the outstanding monuments of the early church in western Europe, and as such has the potential to inform an understanding of social and religious structures, and of contemporary artistic expression.

References

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as NY16NW4.

References:

Cassidy B ed. 1992, THE RUTHWELL CROSS, Princeton University.

Hawkes J and Mills S eds. 1999, NORTHUMBRIA'S GOLDEN AGE, Stroud.

O 'Carragain E 1987, THE RUTHWELL CRUCIFIXION POEM IN ITS ICONOGRAPHIC AND LITURGICAL CONTEXTS, Peritia, 6-7, 1-71.

RCAHMS 1920, SEVENTH REPORT WITH INVENTORY OF MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS IN THE COUNTY OF DUMFRIES, Edinburgh: HMSO, 219-289.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Ruthwell Cross

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/ruthwell-cross

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About Scheduled Monuments

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for the designation of buildings, monuments, gardens and designed landscapes and historic battlefields. We also advise Scottish Ministers on the designation of historic marine protected areas.

Scheduling is the way that a monument or archaeological site of national importance is recognised by law through the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments of national importance using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The description and map showing the scheduled area is the legal part of the scheduling. The additional information in the scheduled monument record gives an indication of the national importance of the monument(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the monument(s). The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief and some information will not have been recorded. Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at www.historicenvironment.scot.

Find out more about scheduling and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot. You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at designations@hes.scot.

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Printed: 12/12/2018 22:05