12. Crucifixion Scene
St Dunstan & All Saints, Stepney, E1
Built in the late tenth century by Dunstan, Bishop of London, the church of All Saints was renamed some time after Dunstan’s canonization in 1029. Today it is largely a fifteenth-century building with nineteenth-century additions, but its history is clearly a long one, with the tenth-century structure thought to have replaced a wooden one that had already served the community for many decades, if not longer.
For our purposes its most interesting feature is a rare Anglo-Saxon rood at the east end of the church, the name given to a carved stone relief that would have formed part of a wooden screen used to divide the nave from the chancel in the original building. For many years the carving was assumed to be Norman, partly because of its slightly Romanesque decoration and because no other Saxon work had been found in the church. In fact it was correctly identified only as recently as 1988.
Rectangular, and approximately three feet by two, the grey limestone has been badly weathered (probably during a period when it was affixed to the outside of the church in the nineteenth century) but it clearly shows a finely carved crucifixion scene bordered by a rob