Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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Siguard's Cross - Fafni's Bane (No. 121)

Kirk Andreas Cross 121Kirk Andreas Cross 121Kirk Andreas Cross 121Kirk Andreas Cross 121

Siguard's Cross - Fafni's Bane (No. 121)

Believe to date from the late tenth century. The top part of the cross is broken off. Each side shows the shaft of a cross with a broad flat circle. The decorative treatment is free from Celtic influence and consists of zoomorphic interlacement and figure subjects.

One side is decorated with the hero Sigurd and the dragon Fafni. Below is a figure of Sigurd piercing the dragon with his sword; above the hero is seen stooping over a fire roasting the heart of his foe, he cools his scalded fingers in his mouth, this action allows him to understood the language of birds and learn from them the treachery of the dwarf Regin, one of the birds is seen at his back, while above stands his steed Grani, the grey one.

The other side shows serpent headed interlacing, a mangled figure attacked by one of the serpents, illustrating a later part of the story, when Gunnar, who had become possessed of the treasure is thrown into the snake pit.

This cross is one of the four Sigurd crosses found on the Isle of Man. The others are at Jurby, Malew and Maughold. They depict scenes from the popular Norse folk tale. The story starts by Loki throwing a stone to kill Otter as he was wanting a salmon. For this sin the gods had to pay a great treasure, the possession of which carried a curse. The treasure passed to the dragon Fafnir. Odin told the hero Sigurd to dig a pit and lie in it to wait for the dragon. The scene of Sigurd in pit driving his sword into the dragon is most clearly shown on a cross at Jurby and also on the part of the cross at Andreas. Odin then told Sigurd to cut out and roast the dragon's heart. When feeling the heart Sigurd burned his finger and on sucking it he tasted the dragon's blood, which enabled him to understand the song of birds, who told him of danger from enemies. The Andreas cross clearly shows Sigurd roasting the heart over the fire and sucking his finger. His ear is turned to hear the bird, while his horse looks on over his shoulder. The story goes on to tell how the treasure passed to Sigurd's foster brother Gunnar, but the curse continued with the treasure and Gunnar eventually was cast bound into a pit of serpents.

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