I’m trying to complete my Bradford TAG presentation with my Masters student Aurea for my co-organised session on Mobility, Monumentality and Memory. Rather than do it, I’m finding myself prevaricating by musing over birds and crosses following the theme of my recent posts on birds perched on gravestones in cemeteries. Here are some to satisfy those who, like me, combine ornithological and archaeological interests.

Maen Achwyfan is a late 10th/early 11th-century cross 1.4 miles west of Whitford church, Flintshire. Here it is shown with bird in flight! I’m trying to write about mobility, monumentality and memory relating to this monument this evening, so it seems apposite to show you this distinctive view of it again, first posted last February.

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Irish high crosses. As a professor of early medieval archaeology, I am obviously a fan of these lithic beasts. I also live in awe and fear of them. They are so amazing, so complex, so accomplished and also quite varied, it is all too easy to avoid them! So let me opt out of writing anything intelligent about them just yet and show you a picture of a thrush sitting on top of Muiredach’s cross at Monasterboice, Co. Louth.DSC00668

Do you think, dear reader, that early medieval sculptors and monastics cursed birds for crapping on stone crosses? Alternatively, did their designers anticipate, or their users appreciate, birds perching on stone crosses as a key ingredient of their symbolism and significance as monuments that linked heaven and earth?

 

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