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Stone Coffin

In dealing with the most elaborate of the two complete stone coffins to be found inside the church, the beautifully carved ‘English Cross’, also known as the ‘Tree of Life’, upon examination by a lecturer of the Department of Church Archaeology at York University,
Dr. Aleksander McClain, was identified as being 13th century work. In 2006 he described the markings as follows:

This coffin lid is exceptionally fine work, with detailed and elaborate high-relief carving. It almost certainly originates from the major medieval quarry and sculpture workshop located at Barnack, a centre of production and innovation that exported work across the whole of the east midlands and southeast. Stylistically, the cross slab probably dates to the later part of the 13th century. The cross head is of the ‘bracelet derivative’ style, which first appears circa.1200. The elaborate nature of the head, the use of Fleur-de-Lis (as can be seen on the terminals of the cross, the branches coming off the shaft of the cross, and the shape of the base), and the flowing, naturalistic nature of the foliation suggests a date of circa 1250-1300. The foliated motif of the cross may allude to the medieval concept of the cross as the “Tree of Life”, referring to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Foliated crosses are also found in other forms of medieval art.”

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