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Ancient cross comes back to Warwickshire

Warwickshire Museum has secured the loan of the Alcester Tau Cross from the British Museum, the first time it has been in the county since it was discovered over 100 years ago.

The cross was uncovered in the garden of the rectory at Alcester and has been part of the collections of the British Museum since 1903.

This outstanding piece of Early Medieval art was carved from walrus ivory in the early 11th century AD. 

The cross would originally have been covered in gold foil and hung with precious stones or pearls. It would have been an eye-catching sight placed on the top of a long staff or ‘crozier’ and held by a high-ranking bishop during religious ceremonies.

‘Tau’ is the Greek for the letter ‘T’, a reference to the crozier’s shape. Other croziers of the time had traditional crosses or a shepherd’s crook.

Keeper of Archaeology, Sara Wear, said:  “It is a beautiful object which shows the amazing skills of Medieval craftsmen. This is a great opportunity for the people of Warwickshire to see such an important find back in its home county. We are very grateful to the Trustees of the British Museum for this loan.”

Visitors to Warwickshire Museum will be able to see the cross until the end of September when it will move for display at the Roman Alcester Heritage Museum until next March.