Maniple and Stole of St Cuthbert

Detail of Maniple of St Cuthbert - showing Peter, St Gregory's
Deacon - shows use of split stitch for figures and
couching for background.


This set of vestments are the best preserved examples of Anglo-Saxon Embroidery. They are worked with gold thread and coloured silks in stem stitch, split stitch and surface couching. These vestments are covered in figures, who are archtypes rather than individuals.

It seems likely that the work was done in Winchester, the capital of Saxon England. These works are of a more formal structure than the earlier Maaseik Embroidery. The Durham work was influenced by the Carolingian manuscripts of Tours in France. These in turn influenced the Winchester school of manuscript painting. Even at this early stage we seen the interplay between the various arts in the production of embroidery designs. It is likely that the illustrators of the manuscripts may also have been employed to draw the designs for embroidery onto the ground fabrics.


Stitches and Techniques


Designs were influenced by other decorative arts of the time, especially manuscript painting. Manuscript artists may have been employed to mark fabrics for embroiderers.


Sources for Further Information

  • Ivy, Jill. Embroideries at Durham Cathedral (Durham: Dean and Chapter of Durham, 1997)
  • Bridgeman, Harriet and Drury, Elizabeth; (eds) Needlework: an Illustrated History, (New York: Paddington Press 1978)