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John Higgitt

Anglo-Saxon sandstone cross in Ruthwell Church, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. It is one of the earliest and also perhaps the most complex of the free-standing stone crosses of early medieval Britain and Ireland (see Anglo-Saxon art §III). It is a product of the ecclesiastical culture of the Northern English kingdom of Northumbria in an area that had recently passed from British to Northumbrian control. Although a date as early as ad 680s is possible, most scholars now date the cross to around the second quarter of the 8th century. The cross is first recorded c. 1600 as standing inside the church at Ruthwell, where possibly it had always been, although stone crosses normally stood outside. In 1642 the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland ordered its destruction as an idolatrous monument, and there are later references to scattered fragments. In the early 19th century it was inaccurately reassembled with modern inserts (including the transom) and re-erected outside. It was moved into the church in ...