The Sproxton Cross is a ‘wheel-headed’ cross, and there are two theories as to how this particular form of cross-head actually evolved. Professor Baldwin Brown in his book ‘The Arts in Early England’ (1937) stated that the wheel-head is of Roman origin, deriving from XP, the ‘Chi-Rho’, XP being the first two letters of the Name of Christ , (‘Christos’) in Greek. The Chi-Rho was adopted by the Roman Emperor Constantine in 312 A.D., and is known as the ‘Labarum of Constantine’ by the Church of Rome. The Labarum was latterly stylised yet further, the X or ‘Chi’ being rotated to form an upright cross, with the loop of the P or ‘Rho’ attached to the top of the vertical arm. Baldwin Brown propounded that if so set within a circle, as was often the case, this would explain the provenance of the four ‘cut-outs’ in wheel-headed crosses. A slightly earlier theory, but one which is altogether more plausible than Baldwin Brown’s, is that proposed by W.G. Collingwood in his ‘Northumbrian Crosses of the Pre-Conquest Age’ (1927). Collingwood claimed that the wheel-head is of Celtic origin, probably having originated on the Isle of Man, and that the form was introduced into England by Norse invaders in the 10th century. The device probably started out in the Bronze Age as a sun-symbol, being achieved by the division of a circle into quadrants, or a greater number of segments, by means of simple radii.  Collingwood’s theory of Manx derivation is ostensibly borne out by the fact that the distribution of wheel-headed crosses is most intense in areas of Scandinavian settlement, in particular the northern counties of Cumberland and Yorkshire and that part of Lancashire that lies between them. The Sproxton Cross is often ignorantly referred to as a Saxon cross, but in both style and form it is in fact Anglo-Norse, belonging to the Jellinge style of Scandinavian art which flourished in the 10th century. It must be pointed out that the wheel-head does not occur on Anglian, or Saxon crosses, which are invariably ‘free-armed’. In its evolution within the Anglo-Norse style, the wheel becomes progressively larger until it practically engulfs the cross, which is then formed by the four aforementioned ‘cut-outs’ being made within the wheel, hence the descriptive term ‘cut-out wheel-head’. This helps us date the Sproxton Cross as being late on in the development of the form, having been carved in the late 10th century, or at the very latest, the early 11th. A late 10th century date is probably more likely than the early 11th though, and the reason why will be given later in this account.  We must now consider the carvings which still remain upon three sides of the Sproxton Cross. Those on the west facing side
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