“In the lairs where Dragons once lived, reeds and rushes will arise.”

This term I took a field trip with my Vikings in Northumbria class. We went around Ryedale to look at what is presumably Scandinavian influenced stone sculpture. We spent one Saturday at five churches searching out the remains of stone crosses and other sculpture from the before the Norman Conquest of 1066.

First we went to Middleton, where we found several stone crosses. Ffion stands next to the man in a ‘Danish style hat.’ Or as we shortly started calling him the conical man.

Cross piece D, at Middleton, also has one of the conical men.

Every church we went to had a small cemetery with the immensely green grass.

In the west face of the tower at Middleton, there is a marigold cross possibly taken from an Anglo-Saxon grave slab.

At Sinnington, there was no free standing monument, but lots of recycled bits in the walls inside and out. We spent quite a bit of time outside the building playing spot the sculpture bits. This piece is part of a jelling beast that is typical of sculpture from the Viking Age.

Many of the pieces were broken and had incomplete decorative patterns, like this knot work fragment.

While others gave a more complete picture, like this crucifixion, located on the south wall.

The third church we attended was at Lastingham, It had many interesting piece down in the crypt, where we used flash lights to look at them. Not photo friendly.

However, it had another cemetery. In the background you can see the pub where we went for lunch.

Lastingham Church

Church four, was Kirkdale, which was very picturesque.

In the cemetery, you can see the lovely snowdrops growing.

Kirkdale had some more knot work placed outside in the wall, you can see that they stone type differs as it wears and erodes differently. The reddish color is due to iron seeping out of he stone.

Most interesting about Kirkdale, is the sundial above the door. It is a reused Roman sarcophagus lid, on which there is a runic Old English inscription, saying that the church was built by Orm Gamelson, a person with an Old Norse name. the inscription also tells us that the minster-church was built before the conquest around 1055.

At the last church, Hovingham, there was an Anglo-Saxon grave slab carving covered with Marion imagery, that could have possibly covered a women’s grave.

Hovingham was located next to a manor house that had these dragons flanking the 18th century entrance.

Outside Hovingham, there was a bell tower facing he cemetery so the bells could scare away the demons at funerals. The tower had an inlaid stone cross above the door, just as a Middleton.

The trip was very fun and I enjoyed seeing new parts of the English country side, if only ten miles from York.


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