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On « Sculptured Stone recently removed from a House on the Site of the Church of
St. Vedast, Norwich.
THE REV. W. HUDSON, F.S.A.,
Hon. Editorial Secretary.
The Stone, of which two illustrations are here given, has a double interest, partly on its own account, and partly by reason of the historical associations of the spot on which it was found.
Although its real value has now for the first time been revealed, yet the existence of the stone is no new discovery. Being built into the angle of a house in a public street, it was well known to a considerable number of persons, and its antiquity could not be doubted. It was mentioned by the writer of this notice as a relic of St. Vedast's Church in a Paper on “The Stone Bridge in St. Faith's Lane, Norwich," already published by this Society. It was, however, so covered up with plaster that it was difficult to say what might be underneath, except that certain curved prominences and depressions seemed to indicate the possible existence of some sculptured design of pre-Norman origin. At the time of the survey of Norwich some years ago, the Ordnance Surveyors found on the surface of the stone a
| Norfolk Archæology, vol. x., p. 140, note 9.
convenient place to set one of their marks. Fortunately they avoided the most valuable part of the surface, though certainly not from any knowledge of what they left untouched.
To speak first of the stone. It was built into the angle of a house attached to a stable yard at the northwest corner of the junction between Rose Lane and Cathedral Street South. In the beginning of this year (1896) the house was pulled down for the widening of the street. The stone was secured by one of those who knew its value, Mr. F. B. Crowe, of St. Stephen's. Its superficial cover of whitewash and paint was removed, and the long-hidden designs partially revealed on two sides. A squeeze of each side was taken by the Rev. W. F. Creeny, F.S.A., who shortly afterwards had an opportunity of shewing them to Dr. Browne, Bishop of Stepney, acknowledged to be a leading authority on this subject. By a fortunate coincidence the Bishop shortly afterwards visited Norwich for the purpose of preaching in the Cathedral, and he was then able briefly to inspect the stone, which had been kindly presented by Mr. Crowe to the Castle Museum, where it was deposited in the Muniment Room for temporary convenience. The Bishop pronounced it to be probably a portion of a Churchyard Cross of Scandinavian type, and of the approximate date of about A.D. 920. This opinion has been confirmed by other experts who have seen the photographs. As this is believed to be the first stone of its type and period which has yet been found in Norfolk or any of the adjoining Eastern Counties, it is manifestly of great interest and value.
The stone is sculptured on two sides. No sculpture is now traceable on the other two sides. As it lay built into the wall, it rested on the narrow unworked side the broader of the two sculptured faces fronting the street. The bottom of the stone formed part of the angle of the house at about five feet above the level of the road. The designs on each side are included in sunken panels. Semi-circular arches, supported by columns with capitals (all plainly distinguishable, though much worn) form a sort of frame to these panels, in each of which are sculptured two animals, one above the other, in reversed positions. The bodies are somewhat contorted, and are bound about with interlacing bands, which also fill the vacant spaces on the panels. The details of the designs are not by any means so clear as might be wished. The surface of the stone is still covered in many places with plaster so hard and so firmly embedded in the hollows that it would be a great risk for any but an expert to attempt to remove it. Still the figures of the animals may be fairly traced. They are of the contorted type commonly characteristic of Scandinavian art, of which sculptured specimens have been found in the north of England. The stone is a hard sandstone, which must have come by sea from the north-east coast of England, probably Yorkshire.
It is impossible to say on what the fragment rested when in situ, or what may have been above it. The dimensions in its present condition are as follow :—The total height is 353 inches; the breadth of the broader front is at the bottom 17 in. ; at the top 121 in.; the breadth of the narrower side is at the bottom 12 inches; at the top, 7} inches. The height of the sculptured panels is 20 inches. There are no traces of any Runic inscription to be found.
A stone with an animal of somewhat similar character was found in 1852 in digging some foundations in St. Paul's Churchyard in London. It is now deposited at the entrance to the Guildhall Library, and forms the subject of a Paper by the Rev. G. F. Browne (now Bishop of