The Wilton Cross

The Wilton Cross - Reverse (B&W)
The Wilton Cross
Where was it found?

Confusion about the find site of the Wilton Cross

Dr. Sonja Marzinzik is the Curator of Insular Early Medieval Collections at the British Museum. She has supplied the following information about the finding of the Wilton Cross:

"Thank you for your enquiry (ref. 262). I have now checked our online database and the original accessions register. There does not seem to be a separate object file on the Wilton Cross.

The British Museum acquired the cross in May 1859 through the sale of the Chaffers Collection at Sothebys. William Chaffers was a dealer in antiquities and ceramics historian active through much of the 19th century and I gather that he must have had his own collection, which was then sold in 1859. It might be worthwhile looking through relevant sales catalogues.

The register entry was written on accession of the object and it is interesting. It originally read

"Found at Lakenheath Suffolk in a Chalk pit. Jl. Arch. Assoc. VIII.1839."

The same 19th-century hand later altered the entry, crossing out Lakenheath and the find spot now reads

"Wilton in Norfolk (not at Lakenheath Suffolk)", with Lakenheath crossed out.

The register entry also mentions an engraving of the cross published in Norfolk & Norwich Archaeological Society vol. 3, p. 375."

Comparison with the Ixworth Cross

The Ixworth Cross derived its name from the Collector who first published details of this item, who was Joseph Warren of Ixworth. He published his cross and associated items as "Saxon Remains found near Ixworth".

Warren compared his cross with the now-named "Wilton Cross", found a few years earlier. Warren believed that the Wilton Cross was found at Lakenheath, and referred to this as its find location in his 1856 article about his own finds.

This cross was referred to in Warren's article as

"one found in a gravel pit at Lakenheath, near Brandon, in Suffolk, a few years since".

Where is Wilton?

Since the 19th century the Wilton Cross has generally been attributed to Hockwold cum Wilton, just across the River Ouse from Lakenheath into Norfolk.

In looking at the Lakenheath area on a map, you can find that there is a wood called Wiltonhill Wood on the western side of Brandon.

Dr Marzinzik's advice on this matter is as follows:

"As for the question of Wilton Hill vs. Hockwold-cum-Wilton, there is no further information, but as it seems that the latter has not been doubted, I would be inclined to stick with this as the findspot."

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