The focal image in almost every late medieval English church would have been a large crucifixion at the east end of the nave, usually mounted above the chancel arch on a screen or beam. Of the many hundreds of these monumental roods that must once have existed, only a handful of fragments remain. For many ordinary parishioners, their primary point of engagement with the image of the crucified Christ would probably have been their parish rood. Between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries, crucifixion imagery underwent a process of change. This lecture will attempt to piece together some of the key elements of these changes, and to discern something of their motivations and effects. It will chart the iconographical development ‘from judgment to passion’ that was to prove a cornerstone of later medieval religious devotion.
John Munns is a Fellow and Tutor of Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he teaches medieval history and the history of medieval art.