Walking along the coastal path at Roker, I spotted what appeared to be a Northumbrian Cross. Having seen a number of W G Collingwood’s war memorials which replicate Northumbrian crosses, I wondered whether I’d found another one, albeit well off his normal “stomping ground” of the Lake District. Looking closer I discovered that the cross wasn’t a war memorial, but was a monument to the Venerable Bede, the author of ‘The Ecclesiastical History of the English People’, who was born in Sunderland on land that was owned by the Monkwearmouth Monastery around 672 AD.
The monument was erected in 1904. It was taken down during WW1 but then reinstalled after the war.
The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association’s website provides a dettailed description of the carvings on the cross
The west face is carved with the main inscription.
The south face is carved to a depth of 3 cm with a relief of birds and animals intertwined within foliage.
The east face is carved with scenes from the life of Bede, with their titles under each: Baeda comes to Jarrow; Benedict and Siggfrith; The Codex Amiatinus; Baeda Writing the History; Baeda’s Last Moments. Between each scene are further intricately carved patterns based on the porch in the tower of St. Peter’s Church.
The north face has relief carvings of eleven bishops: Trumbergt; Benedict Biscop; Eggfrith; John; Fosterwinn; Siggfrith; Geolfrith; Agga; Hvaegbergt; Geowulf; Eggbert. A foliate pattern links each head. The cross is carved with a rope tracery design on the arms and boss.