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Trees and Timber in the Anglo-Saxon World$
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Michael D. J. Bintley and Michael G. Shapland

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199680795

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199680795.001.0001

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Recasting the Role of Sacred Trees in Anglo-Saxon Spiritual History: The South Sandbach Cross ‘Ancestors of Christ’ Panel in its Cultural Contexts

Recasting the Role of Sacred Trees in Anglo-Saxon Spiritual History: The South Sandbach Cross ‘Ancestors of Christ’ Panel in its Cultural Contexts

Chapter:
(p.211) 11 Recasting the Role of Sacred Trees in Anglo-Saxon Spiritual History: The South Sandbach Cross ‘Ancestors of Christ’ Panel in its Cultural Contexts
Source:
Trees and Timber in the Anglo-Saxon World
Author(s):

Michael D. J. Bintley

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199680795.003.0011

In this paper, the ‘Ancestors of Christ panel’ of the southern Sandbach cross, each of whose figures is shown bearing some form of staff or rod, centres a discussion of how the Anglo-Saxons were encouraged to contemplate the role of such emblems in their own spiritual history. This theme may have been important in the compilation of the Junius Manuscript, where they serve as prefigurations of the cross. A similar idea may have lain behind Bede’s presentation of rods and pillars borne by two Anglian kings in the seventh century which prefigured Oswald’s cross at the battle of Heavenfield and the conversion of Northumbria. Ultimately, this paper argues that Anglo-Saxon Christians came to consider the trees, pillars, and rods of their heathen forebears in much the same light as the trees, pillars, and rods of the Judaeo-Christian tradition: as predecessors to the cross of Christ and the redemption of mankind.

Keywords:   Sandbach, cross, Junius Manuscript, Oswald, Bede, rod, pillar, tree

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