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Some Eighteenth-Century Drawings of the Ruthwell Cross

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 April 2011


When Presbyterian iconoclasts tumbled the Ruthwell Cross in 1642 they inflicted irreparable damage on one of the great monuments of Anglo-Saxon art and, unwittingly, provided scholars with boundless opportunities for discussion about how the Cross originally looked. Attempts to reconstruct and interpret the imagery and inscriptions have become a staple of scholarly endeavour. New evidence about its early appearance, therefore, is likely to be of some value. This note presents some eighteenth-century drawings of the Cross, until now unpublished, that survive in the library of the Royal Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. They have the merit of illustrating all the fragments of the Cross that were known in 1788. And in a modest way they supplement our information about the Cross before it deteriorated further under inclement Scottish skies in the hundred years prior to its reinstallation in the church at Ruthwell in 1887.

Research Article
Copyright © The Society of Antiquaries of London 1992

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