Description: A complete bronze reliquary cross, formed in two halves, an image of Christ, with arms outstretched, on one side, and an image of the virgin Mary with hands upraised, on the other. A barrel-shaped suspension ring at the top and hinge at bottom for attachment. Cross has a dark green-brown patina.
Size: 57 mm/2.2 ins. in length (including the suspension ring)
Date: c. 10th - 12th Century A.D.
Provenance: From the estate of a deceased London collector.
Background: The collector, who worked as a buyer for Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly, London, built up a fine collection of coins and antiquities purchased from leading London dealers.
Notes: This type of bronze cross is made of two crosses hinged at the bottom, which allowed access to a hollow space intended to hold a holy relic. However, a large number of these crossses survive suggesting that they were not used solely for primary religious relics such as bone fragments of saints or pieces of the supposed True Cross; instead they are likely to have contained more mundane secondary relics, for example, pieces of earth from a holy site or a piece of fabric made holy through contact with the body of a saint.