Revisiting the Cloisters Cross: A One-day Colloquium

The Cloisters Cross is widely recognised as a masterpiece of late Romanesque art. Carved of walrus ivory, it appeared after World War II in a private collection and was subsequently acquired by the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The earliest scholarly publications identified it as English, and that probably remains the majority opinion. However, over the years, other attributions have been suggested. What has become clear in the process is that the Cross merits study in the broad intellectual and artistic context of northern Europe, from the Ile de France up to Scandinavia, and England across to Germany.

This one-day colloquium, jointly held by the British Archaeological Association and The Courtauld, will review and extend the debates about the origins and history of the Cloisters Cross. Speakers include Charles T. Little, Sabrina Harcourt-Smith, Robyn Barrow, Miri Rubin, Neil Stratford, Cecily Hennessy and Sandy Heslop.

Organised by Cecily Hennessy and Sandy Heslop on behalf of the British Archaeological Association.

Registration cost includes lunch and refreshments

This event has passed.

12 May 2023

Friday 12th May 2023, 10.30am - 6.30pm BST

General Admission £25 (+ booking fee); Concession prices available for students.

Vernon Square Campus, Lecture Theatre 2

This is an in person event at our Vernon Square campus. Booking will close 30 minutes before the event begins.




10.30 to 11.00 Coffee and registration (Reception and Research Forum Seminar Room)

11.00-11.10 Welcome: John McNeill and Tom Nickson (Lecture Theatre 2) 

11.10-12.40 Session 1, Chair: Lloyd de Beer

Charles T. Little: ‘Through a glass darkly’: Seventy Years of Understanding and Misunderstanding the Cloisters Cross

Sabrina Harcourt-Smith: Reflections on the Cloisters Cross in a preaching context

12.40—1.40 Lunch (provided – Research Forum Seminar Room)

1.40-3.20 Session 2, Chair: Lindy Grant

Robyn Barrow: Split Tooth: The Cloisters Cross and the Walrus Tusk

Neil Stratford: The British Museum and the Cloisters Cross

Miri Rubin: ‘Synagoga, agnus dei’ and the Cloisters Cross

3.20-3.40 Tea break (Research Forum Seminar Room)

3.40-5.10 Session 3: Chair: Richard Plant

Cecily Hennessy: The Cloisters Cross and the Sphere of Henry the Lion and Matilda of England

Sandy Heslop: The Oslo Corpus and the Cloisters Cross Revisited

5.10-5:40 Final Discussion

5.40-6.30 Drinks (Research Forum Seminar Room – generously supported by Sam Fogg)


Close up photograph of the centre of an intricately carved cross made of ivory.
The Cloisters Cross