Monday, 9 June 2014

Chew Stoke, North-East Somerset

These two carvings are in the north wall of the graveyard of St Andrew's church. I only found out about them the other day, from the South West Corpus. I picked away quite a bit of newly grown ivy off one (it wasn't stuck fast) and cut back a bit of the hedge. They're thought to be early 10th century.

 With such worn stones, it's a particular kind of drawing enjoyment, because to begin with your resistant brain tells you there's nothing to draw. But as you work from one area to another, some sense begins to emerge, and that's satisfying to a primate brain. It also feels something like a process of recording. Yes there will be craftily lit photos in the Corpus book (and you can see photos in a 1938 volume of the Antiquaries Journal, albeit the wrong way up!). But there are things you can't get from mere looking, I think. There is something special about the process of drawing that helps you understand what the pattern is.

Both stones have had a hole put in them at some point. With the patterns quite faint, that doesn't help with interpretation. While I was drawing the one above, I knew there was something that didn't add up about the right hand side - (literally) too many ends not tying up. But now I'm refining the drawing at home, maybe it makes more sense. I think they just loop together where the hole now is. It's a large design and some of the ribbon is rather wide - in fact I thought I could see a border on one bit (rather than just a line down the middle) and that makes me wonder if a snakey creature is involved somehow. It's obviously not one of those neat symmetrical knotwork patterns. So perhaps it's more like something at Ramsbury.

This is the stone that's on the right of the doorway. It was very hard to make out anything but the basic shapes - there were only a couple of places where it was clear if anything was going over or under anything else. There are some clear spirals though and the two club-shaped foliage shapes. Maybe there was a cross in a circle in the top corner or maybe that was my imagination. It's pretty elaborate and seems rather different to the other Anglo-Saxon stones I've seen so far?

Images © Rhiannon 2014

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