Amazing Christmas discovery, mystery and adventure


When buying the Amazing Stuff Christmas tree this year, we happened upon something quite amazing. Grown within the trunk of the tree – no word of a lie, and not a hint of Photoshop – was the image of a cross:

Cross in Christmas treeThe cross in the stump of the tree

The good lumberjack who felled the tree said that in the thousands of trees he had felled he had never seen anything like this before. As you can imagine, having just discovered the symbol of Christianity in a Christmas tree (and at Christmas to boot), our Amazing Stuff radar was going haywire!

And that was just the beginning. After a little research we discovered that the image actually bears a striking resemblance to one cross in particular: the cross of St Cuthbert, the patron saint of northern England. St Cuthbert’s cross is used as a symbol of the Durham City and Cathedral, just along the road from Amazing Stuff HQ. The original cross, made of gold inset with garnets, was entombed along with the Anglo-Saxon bishop’s remains in Durham Cathedral for hundreds of years.

The cross of St Cuthbert

Cutherbert's cross in Christmas treeThe cross in the base of the tree

But now the saga takes a twist of Da Vinci Code proportions. Bear with us here. According to a 1593 account, Rites of Durham, St Cuthbert’s remains were exhumed by Henry VIII’s commissioners during the dissolution of the monasteries around 1537, having lain there for more than 500 years. To the their astonishment, the saint’s body was found to have barely decayed over that time. While the commissioners sent word of this to the King, it is said that the monks buried St Cuthbert’s remains in a secret location to save them from further desecration, putting another corpse into the original grave along with Cuthbert’s robes and cross. According to the legend, the secret whereabouts of St Cuthbert’s grave has always been kept alive by twelve monks, each of whom will pass it on to one brother before they die.

The Christmas tree in which we discovered this image of Cuthbert’s cross was growing in Newcastle, less than 14 miles from Durham. What do you think? Does ‘X’ mark the spot?

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Donna Farley says:

What a fun post. Featuring it now on my Saint Cuthbert Blog. Happy New Year!