The Queen Eleanor Cross

There have been many hundreds, if not many hundreds of thousands of photographs taken of Geddington’s Queen Eleanor Cross, but none so precise and in such depth, as those taken by Paul Bryan and David Andrews of Historic England.

To start at the beginning, in 2015, English Heritage was divided into two parts:
1) Historic England, which inherited the statuary and protection functions of the old organisation and
2) the new English Heritage Trust, a charity that would operate the historic properties. The British government gave the new charity an £80 million grant to help establish it as an independent trust, although the historic properties remained in the ownership of the state. English Heritage is tasked with protecting the historic environment of England by preserving and listing historic buildings, scheduling ancient monuments and registering historic Parks and Gardens.

It is the protection role that Paul and Bryan were involved with on 30th and 31st January this year. They were tasked with creating 3D images of the Cross using two methods:
1) Laser Scanning and
2) Photo Grammetry.

What is Laser Scanning? Briefly, laser scanning combines controlled steering of laser beams with a laser rangefinder. By taking a distance measurement at every direction the scanner rapidly captures the surface shape of objects, buildings and landscapes. Construction of a full 3D model involves combining multiple surface models obtained from different viewing angles. 

What is Photo Grammetry? Briefly, it is the art, science and technology of obtaining reliable information about physical objects and the environment through the process of recording, measuring and interpreting photographic images and patterns of electromagnetic radiant imagery and other phenomena. One example is the extraction of three-dimensional measurements from two-dimensional data, such as images.

Paul Bryan and
David Andrews at work

In the accompanying photos, images are being taken from bottom to top with an extending pole, to gain the necessary height. Without the use of a ‘cherry-picker’, they were unable to take images from above the Cross. However, thanks to residents Vic Crouse, John Hughes and a team of volunteers in the late 1990s, images were taken all round the Cross, and one from above. Geddington.net’s editor was fortunate in having a copy of this one and, with their permission, it was sent to Paul Bryan. The resulting 3D images that will be obtained, will be compared with images taken a decade ago to check for any changes.

Historic England’s brief origins of the Cross says: “When Eleanor of Castile, the first wife of Edward l, died at Harby, near Lincoln, in 1290, the grief-stricken king was driven to create the most elaborate series of funerary monuments to any queen of England. He ordered the building of 12 elegant crosses to mark each of the resting places of his wife’s funeral procession as it travelled from Lincoln to her burial place at Westminster Abbey, London. The best-preserved of these lies at the centre of the little village of Geddington”.

It’s equally brief description says: “The Geddington cross is different from the typical stone crosses that once stood in nearly every city, town and village in England. These took various forms and served many social and religious functions. Many were destroyed during or after the Reformation. Spire-shaped crosses, of which the Eleanor Crosses are the most famous, are unusual. With its subtle geometry and rich decoration, the Eleanor Cross is an outstanding example of late 13th century stone carving.
It was built in the new, highly ornamental English Decorated style, using local limestone. Intricately carved with floral patterns, the slender cross is triangular in plan and stands nearly 12.8 metres (42 feet) tall. It is built in three tiers. Below the tapering pinnacle at the top are three canopied niches, each containing a Caen stone figure of Eleanor. Beneath these figures are six shields, two on each face, bearing the arms of Castile, Leon, England and Ponthieu in France, of which Eleanor was countess, Originally the pinnacle was crowned by a cross.”

    2 Comments

    1. Hazel

      Sun 16th Feb 2020 at 1:53 pm

      Absolutely superb. No pennies visible in the top though!

      Reply
      • Pam

        Sun 16th Feb 2020 at 2:25 pm

        And no dead squirrels, thank goodness!

        Reply

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