Friday, 7 March 2014

Littleton Drew, Wiltshire

My sister and I drove to All Saints church at Littleton Drew specifically to visit the blocks of carved stone in its porch. They're said to be fragments of a 9th century cross. We stayed for a long time drawing and painting them. The designs are quite worn and even when you observe very closely it's not easy to tell what's going on. The fronts have floral scrolls but the side panels (one on each block) have knot patterns. The colour of the stones is lovely - the soft fawns of the Bath limestone overlaid with greens of algae and purplish shadows. It's cold in the porch but the stones are so worth your attention.

After a while we wondered if we were starting to hallucinate animal shapes in one of the blocks. Perhaps they really were there. They certainly started to come out in the drawings. The right-hand block was definitely more plant-y than the left. I'd read some things before we arrived - that the blocks fit one on top of the other. On reflection of the patterns, this seemed profoundly untrue. I think it's good to trust your own observations.

Afterwards I read about some lettering on one of the blocks. There's a drawing here in the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture from 1908. But neither my sister nor I had any recollection of seeing it. Why would it have been removed? Or was it early 20th century hallucination? Very strange.

You can see photos of the front of the stones here and here. They had been surrounded with spring vegetation when we visited and the porch looked friendly and welcoming. It was a shame the church itself was not open, but English Heritage seem to open it for visitors in the summer.

 Images © Rhiannon 2014

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