Spoils of war – the Cross Gneth

The ‘Cross Gneth’ or ‘Croes Naid’ was a relic said to be a piece of the True Cross. It had belonged to the native Prince of North Wales and formed part of the spoils given over to Edward I at the close of the campaign against Llewellyn and the Welsh in 1283.

The relic was first taken to Westminster Abbey and later in the reign of Edward II it was kept in the Tower of London. Soon after the foundation of the Order of the Garter, Edward III gave the cross to the College of St George, Windsor Castle, to be displayed in St George’s Chapel.

It came to be regarded as the Chapel’s chief relic and remained the focus for pilgrimage and devotion for over 200 years. However, although it was listed in the 1534 inventory of the treasures of the Chapel made in the reign of Henry VIII, it seems to have been confiscated by Order of the Privy Council under Edward VI.

In the easternmost bay of the south aisle of the Choir is a carved and painted boss which represents Edward IV and Richard Beauchamp, Bishop of Salisbury 1450-81, Dean of Windsor 1477-81 and Chancellor of the Garter kneeling on either side of a Celtic cross which stands on a small mound: this is the ‘Cross Gneth’ or ‘Croes Naid’. In addition, one of the carved angels surrounding the east window holds a Celtic cross and a further coloured boss in the Nave also depicts a Celtic cross.

Enid (Assistant Archivist)

The King's Free Chapel. The Chapel of the Most Honourable and Noble Order of the Garter. The Chapel of the College of St George.