The Middleton Cross | JORVIK Viking Centre

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The Middleton Cross replica is based on one of several Viking-era stone crosses in St Andrew's Church, Middleton in Ryedale, and was commissioned in 2016 by the JORVIK Viking Centre for display in its artefacts gallery


Based on one of several Viking-era stone crosses in St Andrew’s Church, Middleton in Ryedale, it was commissioned in 2016, and was carved at the Minster Stoneyard. Traditional stone carving techniques were used by the masons, who sourced the same local Oolitic limestone as was used for the original.


The Middleton Cross Replica

This reconstruction of the cross shows how it might have looked when newly carved. The original was probably given a coat of bright paintwork, but all traces of this have since been lost. It was damaged during the medieval period, when it was used as building material within the fabric of the church. This picture was taken at the York Minster as part of 'JORVIK: Treasures and Belief', a JORVIK On Tour exhibition.

The cross was probably commissioned by wealthy locals to commemorate one of their dead.  It shows an armed warrior figure, which may be a portrait of the Viking over whose grave it stood, along with a monstrous beast and complex interlace. The warrior has a helmet, spear, shield, axe, sword and seax. He is seated, and the finials of the back of his chair are shown as circles above each shoulder.

'Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet'

Psalm 91:13 (King James Version).


As well as representing the sort of kit that was used on the battlefield, his weapons would have held a symbolic meaning for a Viking-era audience: this is a Christian monument, and the spiritual weapons of faith and prayer equip the Christian warrior against death, sin and the devil, who may be represented by the serpent on the opposite face of the cross-shaft.