Halgigongu-krossur úr Kirkjubø

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Published Jan 1, 1977
Sverri Dahl

Abstract

This article considers a cross from Kirkjubøur which came to the National Museum in Copenhagen in 1876, collection number D 11502. The author is grateful for this early opportunity to provide a fuller description of the cross. A description to have appeared in the list (p 85) in Fróðskaparrit 24 (and mentioned in the table, p 88, and summary, p 108, ibidem) was misplaced in printing. It is sculpted from oak but covered with thin, handsomely ornamented copper plates (fig. 1). 

Older sources describe the cross as brass-plated. From this, one can speculate that it was originally gilded and that the traces of gilding could still be seen two hundred years ago. The overall height is 47.0 cm, the span of the transverse 40.4 cm and
the thickness of the elements 2.2 cm. Front, back and sides are all coppcrclad. The uppermost end of the upright and the ends of the transverse are carved with what appears to be a shamrock design. However, the uppermost leaf of the shamrock is not rounded as are the other two, but tongue-shaped. In the centre of each shamrock there is a socket surrounded by a raised edge. It is likely that an ornamental stone or possibly a gem stone was set in each socket. The copper sheathing on the
back is intact (fig. 1), but the sheathing on the front is so peeled that the sockets on the arms have disappeared, leaving only the uppermost socket and a large socket at the junction of the upright and the transverse.

The upright has a wooden tang at the bottom, suggesting that the cross either stood on an altar or on a carrying pole. It can have stood on an altar and also have been carried during processions as it is ornamented on both front and back. A dating of 1400, with some latitude, is suggested. It is concluded that the cross may be the only Faroese processional cross that has been preserved.

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Section
Humanities