Gosforth – St Mary’s Church

St Mary’s Church

Location : Gosforth

Grid Ref : NY 072036


One of the most historical churches in the area, with Viking monuments known worldwide, with a Norse Cross in the graveyard depicting the victory of Christ over the Heathen Gods.


Two 10th century ‘Hogback’ tombstones inside the church cover the graves of Norse Chieftains and are shaped as houses of the dead, and are carved with battle scenes. There are delightful carved faces on the chancel arch, and a Chinese iron bell on the western window sill. There is a Viking ‘fishing stone’ and some curious old collecting boxes.


The graveyard contains a cork tree planted in 1833, the most northerly in Europe. The tool-shed built of stones from the original church, is now a listed building.


10th century ‘Hogback’ tombstones.

The Cross is 14 ft high, the tallest Viking cross in England and second in importance only to the Bewcastle Cross.


With the hog-back tombs inside the church, it was carved around 940 AD.


It is unique among English Viking crosses, not only in size and complete survival, but in the quality and detail of its carving.



The lower part of the Cross which is round represents the ash tree Yggdrasil which the Norse men believed supported the universe.


The upper portion is square, each side capped with the triquetra, symbol of the Trinity.


A church leaflet gives further information about the church and detailed information about the carvings on the cross.

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