What does this cross mean?
When The Old Jewellery Box Shop, Basildon, UK sent us this photo, we were puzzled. What did it mean? Where was it from? Was it even a Christian symbol?
Our eyes were first drawn to the twirly bits at the arm ends which reminded us of the Croix Ancrée. But that doesn't account for the four rings in the centre, which we just assumed were decorative with no special meaning.
We then noticed the each cross arm is in two parts, as with the Gamma Cross; a form of Swastika. Such a cross is composed of four 'L' shaped-pieces at 90 degree angles to each other.
One unusual feature is the lower stem, which is shorter than the upper part and the horizontals. That is rare. It's like the cross is upside-down and if we turn this cross 180 degrees, the short horizontal bar then becomes a titulus, as with the 'Becket' Cross. But the chain fastening on the original photo shows that this piece is designed to be worn with the short horizontal bar at the bottom.
Wrong, but we later discovered there
is a titulus associated with this cross.
If we look at a similar upside-down cross, the Cross of St. Peter, we can find a possible match. St. Peter was crucified, and in a gesture of remarkable humility, he requested to be hung upside down, unworthy to be crucified in the same orientation of Christ.
Then if we add a lower horizontal to this upside-down cross, we see an Altar Cross.
... which happens to lead us in the right direction.
Our final guess was based on the origin of the photo. The name given to the image was 'vintage scottish silver', which led us to consider a Celtic or Norse connection, and the Hammer of Thor becomes a contender...
When we were told the answer, everything fell into place and we could quickly find the original pattern from which the above silver cross was copied. See Papa Stronsay Cross for the anwser.
If you have more information about this cross, please email us with your thoughts.