Vanishing England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 374 pages of information about Vanishing England.
the monster is shown with two heads; here it has only one, and that is being destroyed.  Christ is conquering the powers of evil on the cross.  In another fragment at Gosforth we see Thor fishing for the Midgard worm, the offspring of Loki, a serpent cast into the sea which grows continually and threatens the world with destruction.  A bull’s head is the bait which Thor uses, but fearing for the safety of his boat, he has cut the fishing-line and released the monstrous worm; giant whales sport in the sea which afford pastime to the mighty Thor.  Such are some of the strange tales which these crosses tell.

There is an old Viking legend inscribed on the cross at Leeds.  Volund, who is the same mysterious person as our Wayland Smith, is seen carrying off a swan-maiden.  At his feet are his hammer, anvil, bellows, and pincers.  The cross was broken to pieces in order to make way for the building of the old Leeds church hundreds of years ago, but the fragments have been pieced together, and we can see the swan-maiden carried above the head of Volund, her wings hanging down and held by two ropes that encircle her waist.  The smith holds her by her back hair and by the tail of her dress.  There were formerly several other crosses which have been broken up and used as building material.

At Halton, Lancashire, there is a curious cross of inferior workmanship, but it records the curious mingling of Pagan and Christian ideas and the triumph of the latter over the Viking deities.  On one side we see emblems of the Four Evangelists and the figures of saints; on the other are scenes from the Sigurd legend.  Sigurd sits at the anvil with hammer and tongs and bellows, forging a sword.  Above him is shown the magic blade completed, with hammer and tongs, while Fafni writhes in the knotted throes that everywhere signify his death.  Sigurd is seen toasting Fafni’s heart on a spit.  He has placed the spit on a rest, and is turning it with one hand, while flames ascend from the faggots beneath.  He has burnt his finger and is putting it to his lips.  Above are the interlacing boughs of a sacred tree, and sharp eyes may detect the talking pies that perch thereon, to which Sigurd is listening.  On one side we see the noble horse Grani coming riderless home to tell the tale of Sigurd’s death, and above is the pit with its crawling snakes that yawns for Gunnar and for all the wicked whose fate is to be turned into hell.  On the south side are panels filled with a floriated design representing the vine and twisted knot-work rope ornamentation.  On the west is a tall Resurrection cross with figures on each side, and above a winged and seated figure with two others in a kneeling posture.  Possibly these represent the two Marys kneeling before the angel seated on the stone of the holy sepulchre on the morning of the Resurrection of our Lord.

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Vanishing England from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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