Friday, February 9, 2018

Anglophile Friday - St. Cuthbert's Cross

My Valentine's present came early!
And this photo I took doesn't do the piece justice.
It is brighter and more beautiful in person!
The cross and chain together weigh 33 g/ 1.15 oz.

Mr. C. gave me an early Valentine's gift!  Okay, I'll admit that it's one of those presents where you thank your husband for something and you wait as he, with a far-off look in his eyes, tries to dredge up some flicker of  recognition... Some of you know what I mean. And I don't do that often and only when absolutely necessary. But ANYway, moving along:

I ordered this beautiful historic reproduction piece online after doing a search (and research) for St. Cuthbert's Cross, like the REAL one in the Treasury at Durham Cathedral, which we had the awesome privilege of seeing last October. No kidding, it is a real thrill to be in that newly-opened Treasury and viewing these artifacts that belonged to St. Cuthbert and are more than a thousand years old, along with others of the Treasury that are as old as the 2nd century. If you ever get to London, it's worth the train trip north to spend a night over (at least) in York (and see awesome York Minster Cathedral, making sure to attend Evensong service) and then the additional half hour by train to Durham and Durham Cathedral.

'So who is St. Cuthbert?' you might ask. This brief paragraph from Wikipedia will clue you in:  

"Cuthbert (c. 634 – 20 March 687) is a saint of the early Northumbrian church in the Celtic tradition. He was a monk, bishop and hermit, associated with the monasteries of Melrose and Lindisfarne in what might loosely be termed the Kingdom of Northumbria in the North East of England and the South East of Scotland."

St. Cuthbert
Icon, OCA

I was going to write a blog post on St. Cuthbert, but I remembered that I've already written a few, so I will give the links here for those who would like to read more about him and about Durham Cathedral, where his shrine is located. Check out:  Part APart B, Part C, St. Cuthbert's Gospel (and then there are several other references to Durham that one can find by doing a search in the box on the blog sidebar, if you so wish). The blog posts are accompanied by several photos taken in March of 2015.

St. Cuthbert lived in the mid 7th century in northern England, and his bones, pectoral cross, fragments of his coffin, and vestments (along with many other early artifacts) are now on display in the Open Treasure at Durham Cathedral.

Of course no photography is allowed in the Open Treasure area, and the photos below were taken in the cathedral (by permit).

 A place to kneel and pray - at the shrine of St. Cuthbert

 Colorful tester above the shrine of St. Cuthbert

The photo below is the first room in the Open Treasure, which is well worth the price of admission.

This area was the monks' dormitory

Opened to the public in the summer of 2016, the Open Treasure includes St. Cuthbert's wood coffin and awesome gold and garnet pectoral cross (the reproduction of which is shown in the first photo above), an ivory comb, portable altar, vestments later gifted to the shrine, and the sanctuary knocker (or ring). About the sanctuary ring: If someone had committed a particularly serious offense, they could knock on the cathedral door and be given 37 days of sanctuary to either reconcile with their pursuers or flee. (The right to sanctuary was abolished in 1624.) The original sanctuary ring is in the Open Treasure, and there is a replica on the door of the cathedral. (see below)

 Fall of 2017

Sanctuary Ring
Open Treasure
St. Cuthbert
photo via

Durham Cathedral
stands high above the River Wear
October, 2017

Just a sampling of the work by

A bit about the process of making these reproductions, from the catalog that came with my order:

"Depending on the complexity and fragility of the piece, RTV (Room Temperature Vulcanizing) liquid rubber is poured onto or around it. The catalyst within the rubber cures it within a 24 hour period. Every nuance of detail is picked up by the rubber. The mould is then coated with an electro-conductive chemical spray and immersed in a tank of acidic Copper Sulphate. An electrode of pure Copper is lowered into the solution and attached to a power supply.

"A current is passed from this anode through the solution to the mould, which is wired up to be the cathode, thus completing the circuit. This creates ionic deposition, i.e. the copper travels through the solution from the solid copper block and deposits onto the mould. We build up a working thickness of 1.0 - 1.5mm.

"Any excess metal is removed, the pieces are filled and fitted together to create a solid representation which is then used as a master pattern for cire perdue (lost wax) casting. It sounds quite simple, doesn't it? It isn't."

Um, actually, it sounds extremely complicated, but WOW does it make a beautiful work of art!

Also from the catalog: "...many museums and individuals around the world and even the British Library have had the confidence to allow me to make reproductions of their artifacts."

I can't wait to see what Mr. C's going to get me for my birthday, coming up in August!   LOL


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Have a great weekend, everyone!

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NanaDiana said...

Amazing background information, Judy. That is quite a process with the liquid rubber forming the mold. What a perfect Valentine's Day 'present'-even if the 'presenter' doesn't "get it"

A beautiful post for a snowy day (here)-still snowing this morning. xo Diana

Preppy Empty Nester said...

Great post, Judy. St. Cuthbert is so interesting. I didn't know anything about him. Have a great weekend.

Marcia said...

I am thinking we heard Cuthbert's name when we were in Scotland last fall. When we next travel to England I hope we can visit York and Durham. Thanks for the inspiration to do so.

Cathy Keller said...

Truly beautiful photos and thank for the history of St Cuthbert. Wishing you a grand weekend!

podso said...

Similar but not quite, to a celtic cross. It is just beautiful! Your hubby chose well! (wink). I think St. Cuthbert was in the same time frame as Mohammad--or at least they overlapped a few years.

Susie said...

Judy, Fabulous gift. Thank you for posting about St. Cuthbert. I love seeing the beautiful church. Blessings, xoxo, Susie

Sandra said...

beautiful gift, will you be wearing it or display it or just know you have it.. all the photos are beautiful to. it is a gorgeous place. you may have seen i bought two new rings and made 4 pair of earrings. yesterday i told Bob we could consider all that as my anniversary present, he got nothing because he will not tell me what he wants or buy it himself. he buys nothing but gas for his truck. i love buying my own gifts.

Cranberry Morning said...

I will be wearing it, for sure! 🙂

Judy S. said...

Great post! I love your Valentine's gift; lucky you! (For some reason I always have to open to a new window to post on your blog. Why?)

Terri D said...

Your gift is gorgeous. Your Mr. C has good taste! ;)

I always learn something when you post about your travels. Your photos are worthy of any travel guide.

Julie said...


Debby@Just Breathe said...

Thank you for the history lesson. Very interesting. Your gift is so beautiful. Enjoy!

Marilyn @ MountainTopSpice said...

What an intriguing post Judy! So amazing to read the history of this place, and the fact that you got to visit it in person and share the pictures with us! So sweet of your husband to "give" you the beautiful St. Cuthbert's cross for Valentine's Day, even if he didn't realize it, ha! Have a blessed weekend :)

Missy George said...

You are a very lucky lady..Mr C did well..Thanks for the history lesson..very interesting..Enjoy your weekend..

Lorrie said...

How wonderful to have something to remind you of your time at the Cathedral and St. Cuthbert. It's a beautiful piece, and quite the process to create.

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

Judy the St. Cuthbert cross is lovely. I'm sure Mr. C is happy to have you pick out the perfect Valentine's gift. Your visit to Durham was certainly on a beautiful day. We did not visit the Treasury when we were there. Looks to be another reason to return. ♥

Sara Lorayne said...

That is a beautiful cross. And I really enjoyed reading your post. It's all very interesting. What a blessing to be able to see these treasures in person! I shall have to go read the links you provide.


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