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Dragon Cross Slab

Period: Early Medieval

NGR Easting: 231790

NGR Northing: 490850

Description: The Dragon Cross. A fine piece, each face bearing a cross set on a circle. The slab is rounded at the top, and tapers towards the foot to fit into a socket; the spaces between the limbs are pierced. Both crosses have an expanding shaft, and a ring decorated with plait-work. Regular plaits break into looser interlacing lower on the shaft. The panels to either side are filled with interlace binding dragon figures with gaping jaws, pear-shaped eyes and long tails.

This cross slab was first recorded in 1841 near the old church, and it is therefore tempting to assume that it came to light as a result of the demolition of the previous parish church. It dates to around 1030 AD. The slab is damaged but was originally round-headed and pierced between the limbs. It tapers towards its foot, and the sculpture stops short to allow for its insertion into a socket.

Each face has a central wheel-headed cross, decorated with plaits-of-seven which break into looser interlace towards the foot of the shaft. On both faces, the panels either side of the cross shaft each bear a representation of a dragon, bound by interlace, facing the shaft . The dragon’s head, with open mouth, fearsome teeth and pear-shaped eye, can be seen immediately beneath the ring supporting the arm of the cross. The pear-shaped eye is one of the classic elements of the Ringerike style, and here makes a very rare appearance on a Manx cross. A similar animal appears on a fragment of a gold ring found near Greeba. The remaining decoration is a mixture of Jellinge and Mammen styles, suggesting that this stone stands at the crossover between these art-styles. The carving bears some similarity to that on Manx Cross 122.

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Site & Monument Type: cross

Category: National Monuments Record: Statutory Ancient Monuments

Site ID number: Manx Cross 117

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