What do we know?
The folded cross is one of the few non-warfare related items found in the Staffordshire Hoard. Other than the loss of most of the stones, the folded cross is intact.
The cross bears five roundels and a D-shaped plate. Three of the lateral roundels are fitted with ears. Rivet holes for fittings, some of which were found, are also present.
It was originally decorated with separately attached mounts, two of which still contain garnets, but we are not sure whether the large central mount once contained a garnet or something else, such as rock crystal. The arms of the cross are covered with a design made up from interlaced animal forms very similar to patterns used in some decorated manuscripts that are roughly contemporary with the hoard
Many of the finds at the site had been damaged prior to deposition, and the gold had been twisted or bent, and in some cases broken. It is believed that the cross was folded up so that it could be packed easily into the hoard before burial.
This apparent lack of respect shown to this Christian symbol may point to the Staffordshire Hoard being buried by pagans, but Christians were also quite capable of despoiling each other’s shrines, or simply recycling gold objects to fashion new ones.
A replica of this cross, made by Shona Marsh and the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre (School of Jewellery, Bimingham City University), was presented to Pope Benedict XVI when he visited Birmingham in September 2010.
BMAG Accession number: 2010.0138K0655
PMAG Accession number: 2010.LH.10.K0655
What might it have been used for?
The folded cross is the largest of the Christian objects in the Staffordshire Hoard. It could have been used as a processional cross or altar cross, or it might have been fixed to the front cover of a Bible.
114.3 x 71.2 x 1.3 mm