The Bewcastle and Ruthwell Crosses are the finest sculptured monuments to survive from early eighth-century Northumbria. For what audiences were they designed: clerics, monks or lay people? Of the two monuments, it is likely that the Bewcastle Cross is the earlier. Its designer wished to commemorate a number of benefactors of his or her community, whose names were inscribed on a panel of runic inscriptions on the west face (they are, unfortunately, now largely illegible: see figs 1 and 2). He or she was the first to introduce a number of highly significant theological ideas into Northumbrian sculpture. The Ruthwell designer, who did not set out to commemorate any individuals, expanded and developed theological ideas found in embryo on the Bewcastle Cross (figs 3 and 4). The Bewcastle and the Ruthwell Crosses, both, are best understood in terms of the theological and liturgical interests of Bede’s scholarly circle, in particular of Bishop Acca of Hexham, Bede’s bishop and patron; and of Bede’s friend and correspondent Bishop Pehthelm of Whithorn. Hexham lies east of Bewcastle, and Whithorn west of Ruthwell: I would date Bewcastle within the episcopacy of Acca, i.e. between 709 and 731; and Ruthwell a little later, say between 732 and 740 (the year Acca died). In this period the abbot of Wearmoudi-Jarrow was Hwætberht (abbot 716–c.750). Hwætberht was known as ‘Eusebius’ to his scholarly friends, presumably because of his interest in Eusebius of Caesarea, Constantine and the cult of the Cross. Rosemary Cramp and Richard Bailey have convincingly related the beautiful cross-slab at Jarrow to the abbacy and patronage of Hwœtberht. In his account of King Oswald’s victory, in the sign of the Cross, at Heavenfield, Bede implies that the Cross was, for the Northumbrian aristocracy and the clerics associated with them, the primary symbol of the Christian Faith.