Canterbury Cross

Dating from about 850 AD, The Canterbury Cross has acquired widespread fame as a symbol of the Church of Christianity throughout the Anglican world.

Discovered in 1867 during excavations in St. Georges Street, Canterbury, it incorporates a number of sophisticated techniques into its Saxon design. Cast in bronze with complex decorations, it includes silver triangle engravings which are filled with niello (a black metal mixture consisting of copper, silver, lead and sulphur) enamel.

The cross also features a small square in the centre, from which extend four arms, wider on the outside, so that the arms look like triangles, symbolising the Holy Trinity. The tips of the arms are arcs of a single circle, giving the overall effect of a round wheel.

A stone cross in the same image was erected at Canterbury Cathedral, and has since become familiar to those who make a pilgrimage there. In 1932, a Canterbury Cross made up of pieces of stone from Canterbury was sent to each of the Anglican diocesan cathedrals of the world as a visible symbol of their communion with Canterbury.

With deep connections to the religious and cultural heritage of the city, the cross has subsequently become iconic

Period Anglo Saxon
Location Canterbury
Material Bronze, Silver and Niello
Find me in Anglo-Saxon and Viking Room, Canterbury Heritage Museum

Highlights