A remarkable survival

South Cerney Christ, originally uploaded by Aidan McRae Thomson.

This beautiful Romanesque polychromed head and foot, is all that remains of a rood dating from c.1130. The fragments were found in 1913 walled up behind the respond of a nave arcade at South Cerney in Gloucestershire. Sadly the rest of the figure perished, but originally the corpus would have been around 80cm tall and extremely striking. A remarkable survival, this is one of only two Corpus figures in England to survive the sixteenth century iconoclasm. The other, an earlier 16th century example from Cartmel Fell in Cumbria, was discovered in 1876 in use as a vestry fire poker!

The South Cerney rood is now in the British Museum and I am grateful to Aidan McRae Thomson for his photograph. More information on the rood can be found in R. Deacon and P. Lindley’s Image and Idol; Medieval Sculpture (London, 2001)

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  1. I saw this years back when it was still at South Cerney. A stunning and beautiful survival. Streets ahead of the Cartmel Fell rood in quality, even without the fire damage. There's at least one more surviving British medieval rood, from the Welsh church of Kenys Inferiour.


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