Who messed up?

You may have admired the 1000 year old cross at Nevern and noticed that the top doesn’t fit on the bottom as it should.

The stone masons who created the cross were clearly competent and the stone is weather resistant enough to retain the lovely decoration; the mortise and tenon joint that secures the two halves of the cross has held so why doesn’t the top sit more snuggly on the bottom?

This leads me to speculate on how the crosses were constructed. Was there a production line communication problem, with the workers who cut the tops not checking with the others carving the main stems? Was there an assembly mix-up with the wrong top taken to the Nevern site, leaving another mismatched pair elsewhere?

Carew CrossThe only other similar cross remaining in our part of Wales is the Carew Cross. Given its different design, it’s hard to tell if Nevern’s head would fit Carew’s tail. Does anyone have pictures or measurements that are accurate enough to settle this speculation?

John Hughes of Dinas took these photos. I know that he’d be interested to hear from anyone who has an answer to my question.

About bookvolunteer

I'm passionate about books, about Oxfam and about making the world a better place. When I'm not filling the shelves in Oxfam Wilmslow, I might be found reading the books I've bought in the beautiful surroundings of North Pembrokeshire.
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7 Responses to Who messed up?

  1. calmgrove says:

    This is fascinating, I’d not noticed this before though I should have! I’ll check my copy of Early Christian Monuments in Wales and see what the author says, if anything. Even though ober half a century

  2. Let me know. I’m looking forward to seeing what you discover!

  3. simon682 says:

    Now I really do like the internet. I too am lucky enough to share some correspondence with calmgrove. I really value his understanding of areas of shared interest. I shall value him even more. Everyone should have a friend who has a copy of Early Christian Monuments in Wales!!! I really enjoyed this piece.

  4. inesephoto says:

    To be honest it is the first time I see a cross with a separate top. The carvings look very similar, I would say that both were made by the same stone mason.

    • Both the Pembrokeshire crosses are made in two pieces. The cross at Carew is made of two different types of stone and I have seen that one commentator believes the stem of the Carew cross is better carved than the top. These old Pembrokeshire crosses look quite similar to some that are found in Ireland – but as I have only seen those in photos I’m not aware if the Irish ones were carved in one piece or two.

      • inesephoto says:

        I would really love to know why there are two parts, in the first place. I have seen very old crosses here, and they were made of a whole stone.

        I too noticed the difference between the stem and the top, but I think the top has been weathered.

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