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The naked Viking with a second staff and snake – as envisaged by Prof Edwards

No, I’m not descending into ‘Carry On Archaeology’, I assure you this is a legitimate research question. Let me explain why.

Yesterday, I posted about the ‘naked Viking’ on face C of the Whitford 2 (Maen Achwyfan) cross, dated by Professor Nancy Edwards to the mid-late 10th century AD. This is a rare case of a Viking-Age Christian cross with martial figures, situated in its original landscape situation. Professor Edwards suggests that the ‘naked’ male figure holding an axe and spear and with a sword or seax at his left side, had a second weapon or staff by his right side. What Professor Edwards refers to as a ‘thick curling strand’ is probably a snake or serpent. It seems she envisages something like the photograph above.

But I must confess I have always seen him having a longer snake, like this:

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I wonder whether the naked Viking only as a seax, axe and spear, and instead, he has a very long snake

But then maybe he has a severed snake, like this:

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The severed snake – here showing a short-tailed version. There is a faint line linking the head and body of the beast, so this is merely a suggestion and its faintness at the point suggested might be a result of later wear and damage

The point is that this sculpture, relying on photography alone, leaves many questions unanswered. Relatively crudely carved, exposed to the weather for over a millennium, this naked Viking holds many mysteries that archaeologists need to explore further in future research. It matters because it changes what is going on and what the scene might represent.

Let me re-post the original photograph so you can make up your own mind just how long his snake was.

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