Thursday, November 03, 2005


This image was taken in 2004 on a photographic trip down to Shrewsbury and Hereford. It is of a Sheela-na-gig corbel at Kilpeck Herefordshire.

Saint Mary and Saint David's Parish Church Kilpeck is a jewel of Romanesque sculpture. The exterior corbel table consists of 23 (originally 24) lively sculptures based upon worldly themes.

One such corbel is the Sheela-na-gig, often thought of as a fertility symbol. What is certain is that it is designed to have an impact and that it's form shows the influence of pagan symbolism on the Christian religion.

There are many theories as to why such symbolism was used and where the source of such imagery may have come from. Some think that the
Bestiary is an influence. Others think that the ring of corbels is a symbolic worldly ring around the kingdom of God.

Whatever the source, it makes for striking imagery, even in today's secular world.

You can read all about the Romanesque sculpture at Kilpeck at the remarkable site entitled The Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland . On the site, look out for Ron Baxter's description of the Sheela- na-gig - its just as lively as the sculpture itself!

You can view all of my images of Kilpeck here

For a fascinating blog on church architecture see James Fielding's blog here

The Sheela-na-gig image is available as a print in the following formats:-
1. Framed Print
2. Poster
3. Greeting Card
4. Postcard
5. 2006 Calendar

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