Leeds nostalgia: The Saxon Cross origins

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The Saxon Cross in Leeds is the oldest historic monument, being almost a thousand years old.

It was originally discovered in fragments and had been built into the walls of Leeds Parish Church in about 1838 - it can still be seen inside the church, which is now called Leeds Minster, to this day.

It is thought to commemorate Anlaf, King of Northumbrian Danes, who died in AD 942. Some parts of the cross are replacement stones.

According to the church: “The Leeds crosses, all dating from the 8th to 10thcenturies, would have marked the graves of prominent people living and worshipping in the area. Carved crosses were a new fashion introduced by the Saxons and continued by the descendants of the Vikings; the style of decoration changed over time.

“The Leeds Cross dates from the 10thcentury and is of a style known as Anglo-Scandinavian. The wheel-head at the top belongs to another cross. The carving includes vine scroll and interlace, as well as figures.

“One of the bottom panels tells the then well-known story of the pagan hero, Weland the Smith, who having offended his king, escaped in a flying machine, possibly used here as a parallel for Christian stories and beliefs.”

In a lecture in November 2014, Prof Howard M R Williams , said: “It is important to remember some of the missing pieces have been restored and are not original ones, so the precise details of many scenes are open to multiple interpretations that could have a[an]affect on how we interpret the iconography.”