Rood with attendant figures

Halberstadt, c. 1215–1220, linden, oak and spruce, painted

This towering crucifix with its attendant figures is one of the highlights on the Romanesque Route. Eight and a half metres wide and two and a half metres tall, it uses just a few figures to tell a detailed story of crucifixion and death, victory and redemption. The crucified Christ, set above Adam and the dragon Lucifer, represents victory over original sin and evil, and the promise to forgive sins. To the left of the cross, Maria stands on a snake, an allusion to the Fall of Man and how it was overcome. John stands upon the Emperor Nero, whose attempt to kill the saint failed thanks to divine intervention. Winged beings – cherubim – standing on wheels of fire frame the group as messengers of God.

This work of monumental art is the oldest rood of its kind in Central Germany. Complete with its original polychrome paint, it was built before the Gothic cathedral itself.