What is this cross used for?

(Puzzle 011)

This is a most unusual cross, in that there is a mechanism, for some unknown purpose, and some inscriptions, with no known meaning. Do you have any ideas?

Mystery cross
What is this used for?

Celtic cross

Natal cross

This cross is very similar to the Celtic Cross, except that the circle in the Celtic cross is usually a ring, yet in this Mystery Cross, it is a disc. A cross with a disc is often refered to as a Natal Cross and the disc represents light, like a sunburst.

On this mystery cross, the disc rotates like a wheel. It spins quite freely now, but there is evidence that at one time, a ratchet mechanism controlled the rotation of the wheel. The reverse is smooth with no markings except for the pin which extends through to the brass cross, acting as an axle for the bezel. For what purpose? Is this an example of Trench Art, having no purpose other than occupy a soldier or POW with a bit of time on his hands, or some convalescent and therapeutic craftwork? (See fascinating page on Trench Art at

Expert opinion is divided over how this piece was constructed but it is agreed the disc is not a gearwheel and the item it was not mass-produced.

Other things worth noting are the holes drilled through the disc, its serrated edge, and the inscription. There are four dots arranged as a cross, plus some numbers. (Military dog-tags are sometimes circular and stamped in a similar fashion, but dog-tags usually only have one hole and are not serrated.)

Mystery cross
(Click photo to enlarge)

The most intriguing aspect of this puzzle is the inscription: The numbers stamped read "2001.9.11." – the date of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York.

However, we don't consider this cross to be related to that incident since the owner assures us that the piece was made many years before 2001. In fact, we suspect "2001.9.11." is not a date, because apart from the unusual year/month/day format, dot-separated dates are not usually terminated with a dot. So if it's not a date, what do the numbers reference?

Of all the suggestions received so far we feel this is likely to be trench art with no particular purpose. Or do you know otherwise?

If you know what this piece is used for and/or what the inscription means, please email us with your thoughts.

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