Part of Anglo-Saxon frieze

Contributed by Bedes World St Pauls Church

8th century inhabited vinescroll frieze from St Paul's Monastery, Jarrow

When this object was made, The Venerable Bede - monk, historian and scientist, was a monk at this monastery.Part of an early 8th century frieze from St Paul's Monastery in Jarrow, this carved stone sculpture hints at the splendour of Benedict Biscop's monastery at Wearmouth-Jarrow, inside as well as outside. The frieze would have been coated with plaster and painted. It shows how motifs were borrowed from popular culture and given a Christian meaning. Birds and beasts were copied from examples brought from the Middle East and the vine scroll became a symbol of Christ. The newly-converted Anglo-Saxons would have recognised the plant or tree image because it had a sacred place in their pagan religion. This sculpture shows how closely linked the monastery was to motifs and knowledge from abroad. The Wearmouth-Jarrow monastery was a major centre of European learning and culture, as symbolised by their most famous monk, The Venerable Bede (c.673-735).

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