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Hull and East Riding Museum, Yorkshire, East Riding

(53°44′38″N, 0°19′49″W)
Hull and East Riding Museum
TA 102 288
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Yorkshire, East Riding
now East Riding of Yorkshire
  • Rita Wood
09 Mar 2004

Please use this link to cite this page - https://www.crsbi.ac.uk/view-item?i=15610.

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Feature Sets

The display in the Medieval gallery includes 12th-century stonework; other material was seen in store. The sculpture is grouped in this report according to its find-spot.

Provenances 1-3 are excavated sites in Beverley where re-used fragments of Romanesque date were found and identified. Provenance 4 is attested by records and agreements between the parish of Hutton Cranswick and the Yorkshire Museum, York, from where the font is on loan. Provenance 5 is attested by agreements between the parish church of Fangfoss and the Hull Museum, and also by the known history of the pieces while at Birkbeck College, University of London. The large piece of unknown provenance was excavated from the bomb-damage of the former museum in Hull; any records were lost. The small pieces were in store with no known provenance.

See 'Features: Loose Sculpture' for fuller details of all material under the following headings:

  1. Dominican Friary, Beverley
  2. Lurk Lane, Beverley
  3. 33-35 Eastgate, Beverley
  4. Hutton Cranswick parish church
  5. Fangfoss parish church
  6. Unknown origin, probably within East Riding

For each piece from sites 1 to 3, a reference number used in the relevant publication is given, and then the text is quoted (there is also usually a drawing in the published text). The geological comments were kindly made at my request by Dr Martyn Pedley (Universities of Hull and Leicester) in March 2004.

All items in the Museum's collection are illustrated by courtesy of Hull and East Riding Museum, Hull.


Loose Sculpture


The fieldworker does not agree with all the descriptions quoted from the printed text but time and space precludes a detailed reassessment.

1. Objects from excavations at the Dominican Friary, Beverley. Item (46) is probably a length of string course, and is shown upside down; the patterns are common in the East Riding. Item (47) has comparisons with the S doorway at Thorpe Salvin (YW).

3. Eastgate corbel (item 808). Ram's head corbels are usually found on chancels, and perhaps the seating for a wooden post on the top is from a later re-use.

4. The font from Hutton Cranswick The ten subjects cannot be the naive inventions of the sculptor, despite the realism of the figures in bays A to E: the remainder are standard Romanesque motifs. It is suggested that the motifs were used for teaching adult baptism candidates and/or those baptised as infants (Wood 1999).

Bays A to C show parishioners, real not symbolic people: in bay A, the large man seems to be a leader, a role model for the men; bay B has someone adjusting their cloak, with head covered - this might be a woman. Bay C has a bell-ringer using a pair of bells which would have hung on a simple arch, not a tower.

The standard motifs are: Bay D, wrestlers; these are used in a programme at Foston (YN) to represent a spiritual struggle (Wood 1997). Bays E, F and G have symbols of Redemption: Christ as an archer, as on the font from Everingham (Wood 2011); the Agnus Dei, and David with Goliath's head, an Old Testament type of the Crucifixion.

Bays H, J and K have symbols of Paradise: a Tree, and individual believers transformed into spiritual beings (the lion and the wyvern).

5. Fangfoss

Fangfoss church was rebuilt in 1849-50 using many old stones, but many unused were left lying in the churchyard (see Fangfoss report). Stones from Fangfoss were seen by the fieldworker in Birkbeck College in June 1999. At that time they included two voussoirs with beakhead, two with a radial fluted motif and one fragment of integral base, ring and column. My notes say that the two pieces with radial fluted decoration were jamb stones, not voussoirs, but that was only possible to assess by eye. Eventually the stones were allowed on loan from the church to the Museum, where two are now (2004) on display as “Romanesque Stonework”. The other three stones are not on show.

As displayed, the sections of the voussoirs match, and the inference might be that the two designs alternated in one order. However, this is not how similar voussoirs are used in the reassembled doorway at Fangfoss or on the partially-restored chancel arch at Bishop Wilton, nor would beakhead normally alternate regularly with another pattern in the same order in Yorkshire.

If the four fragmentary voussoirs now at the museum match exactly with the stones reset in the S doorway at Fangfoss, it would suggest they all came from an arch of some larger dimension. Wood-Rees (1913, 255) comments that the doorway at Fangfoss ‘has been built up from twelfth-century stones discovered amongst the debris of the ruined apse’. It is reasonable to suspect that the loose voussoirs in the Museum and the present doorway at Fangfoss together represent the chancel or apse arch of the original church.

6. Unprovenanced double capital

The large double capital is known as ‘St. Patrick’s stone’ because of its supposed origin at Patrington. Museum notes describe this piece as ‘Dolomitic limestone’, i.e., Magnesian limestone. The following two paragraphs are a précis of notes by Martin Foreman, Assistant Keeper of Archaeology at the museum:

“This stone was apparently an early find from the Phoenix Project excavation of 1899-89 which excavated in advance of work at the Albion Street car park site. Before the stone was cleaned, there was staining on it typical of stone recoved from Albion Street. There may be damage caused by a pickaxe at this time, on the L long side. As such, the stone must have been found before detailed records were begun. Between 1989 and 2000, adhering lime mortar was removed from both long sides and the full extent of the ornament revealed.

“The site of the excavation before bomb damage had been the former Municipal Museum in the Royal Institution, Albion Street. This had contained ‘antiquities mostly from East Yorkshire churches, among them… part of a foliated Saxon stone cross from Patrington’ (Sheppard, 1913, 26). Before cleaning, there would have been visible only a single panel of vine-scroll ornament along one short face of the stone, and the whole would have had the appearance of a flat sided larger structure. Sheppard had an interest in other pre-Conquest crosses, and the assumption is that this is his ‘stone cross from Patrington’.”

As a twelfth-century double capital, however, it is singular enough for this region. It is a contrast to work on the Wolds, or anywhere in the county, except perhaps for the fragments of the high-quality cloister sculpture at Bridlington Priory. Patrington was not a monastic site. The delicacy of the carving and small dimensions suggest close viewing was possible, and the provision for paired shafts suggests a cloister. While the strands and the foliage on it have many Yorkshire comparisons, the birds with serpentine tails do not. The motifs and their arrangement may be compared to Reading Abbey capitals, or Hyde Abbey Winchester, see English Romanesque Art exhibition catalogue, item 128e. Both these comparisons date from c. 1125-30.

The three carved faces contain foliage trails with a common form of fluted leaf; the delicate coiled leaflets are not so usual. The strands are rounded in section and scored with two parallel lines (short face). Sometimes the leaves or forks in the trail are bound round the stems in the usual way (R side), sometimes the leaves come off in a more naturalistic swelling (short face). The bird forms have strongly twelfth-century feathering on the neck, but a fluency of line which is more graceful than usual. The inhabited scrolling foliage might be compared to work at Brayton, West Riding. The detail of the scored stems can be compared to similar examples at Healaugh (YW). There is a panel with griffins at Easington which might be a comparison for the creature, but is less skilful.


J. R. Allen, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 1883-4. This is cited in the conservation report but not traced and seen by me.

J. R. Allen, Early Christian Symbolism, London 1887.

P. Armstrong, D. G. Tomlinson, D. H. Evans, et al., Excavations at Lurk Lane Beverley, 1979-82, Beverley 1991.

P. Armstrong & D. G. Tomlinson, Excavations at the Dominican Priory Beverley, Hull 1987.

L. Barnden, Condition and treatment report on the Hutton Cranswick font, conservation report from Sculpture Department, National Museums & Galleries, Merseyside, Conservation Division, 2002.

D. H. Evans & D. G. Tomlinson, Excavations at 33-35 Eastgate, Beverley, 1983-86, Sheffield 1992.

T. Sheppard, Guide to the Municipal Museum Royal Institution, Albion Street, Hull, 4th ed. 1913.

R. Wood, 'Real People in English Romanesque Sculpture', Medieval Life, 11 (1999), 8-15.

R. Wood, 'The Augustinians and the Romanesque font from Everingham, East Riding', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 83 (2011), 112-47.

R. Wood, 'The Romanesque doorway at Foston church', Yorkshire Philosophical Soc. Annual Report for the year 1996, (1997) 67-75.

W. D. Wood-Rees, 'Fangfoss Church', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 22 (1913), 253-255.

G. Zarnecki, J. Holt, and T. Holland (eds), English Romanesque Art 1066-1200, Catalogue of Exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, London 1984.