Gosforth Cross

Four sides of the Gosforth Cross

Viking Age England Julian D Richards

Let us begin at right and the upper picture with the man could be seen as "the Hero and the Beast". However he has a staff in his hand so we could also see it as the Ferryman with his staff. On the symbol stones of Gotland we see the same motif.

Christians surely would see next scene as crucifixion since they compare with the Bible. The allegory could be the same but I am not so sure that the story is that. There are frames around the man so I associate to Gunnar Gjukeson in the Snake Pit. His enemies put him in the pit and her wife Gudrun gave him a harp. He played it with his feet and as long as he played the snakes were pacified. But one snake did not feel asleep. In the legends they love to point out that always some fool destroy the joy. Under this we have the battling snakes of Underworld that get the remains.

On next side we have maybe the "fun of life" with the big snake looking upon. On third side the chain from first side is used as body for the odd triple snake. The same kind we find at Isle of Man but also on the door post to Vindblaes Church near Randers Jutland. Hard to tell what the man on horse and the man with staff are doing. But under that we see the fettered Loke and his wife Sigyn trying to spare him from the poison that otherwise drop into his mouth.

On forth side there is two snakes maybe the seasons. Under that The Stag that was instead of Pegasus and it was asterism of spring equinox and the other half year symbol could be the Ulven / the Wolf and we see some snakes from the Underworld there. At the bottom we see Thor lifting the Midgaard Snake that surround the world. The hero was lured to fight the impossible and that is what life is about.