Medieval cathedrals weren’t just for worship; in many ways, they also functioned like a town square, complete with commerce and civic affairs. In British cathedrals, the tradition was to separate the sacred space used for worship with a wooden screen that would mark the delineation between the sacred and secular.
At the Cathedral, the rood screen has served less as a barrier and more as a marker that signifies the entry into the holiest part of the building — the Great Choir and the High Altar. Most Cathedral services are now held in the Crossing, on the congregational side of the rood screen.
“Rood” is an Old English word for rod or pole, and refers to the cross where Jesus died. The Cathedral rood screen is made of carved oak. High above, a massive crucifix keeps watch over the Cathedral, alongside mournful figures of Mary and John. Beneath the crucifix are carvings of the nine orders of angels.