Monday, 30 March 2015

Colerne, Wiltshire (II)

We visited Colerne and its dragons back last May. I really enjoyed the process of drawing them, how the dragons emerged from the tangle of unclear lines, how you had to concentrate so hard to move from one area to another to eventually discover how the whole fitted together. How really you wanted to throw your book on the floor in frustration and disgust, and it was an exercise in self-control and meditativeness to persevere long enough to get a result. But I was very pleased with the result, like I'd excavated the pattern and understood something new about it from the process of drawing.

Colerne Anglo-Saxon dragon carving, Wiltshire

And next to those dragons was another panel. We were wiped out and there was no way B and I were going to start round two. But this weekend I've had a go, though admittedly not in person. Instead I used a photo I took at the time, plus one from the South West volume of the Corpus of Anglo Saxon Stone Sculpture (an expensive tome, so see your kindly local librarian), and one on the Megalithic Portal. I've also only just found these clear photos (one below) which make me think I've imagined some elements. So it's always got to be better to see such things in person, especially with something as confusing as the above. It helps that you can assume the knotwork always goes under-over-under-over, but ultimately it's better to scrutinise these ancient worn carvings with your own eyes.

from 'The Arts in Early England'

It probably makes sense that the two blocks do come from the same bit of sculpture - there's the same hatching in both, and the same type of small knots. There surely must be a dragon's head on the top left of this one? And could that be a pair of legs crossing in front and behind of its neck? Who knows. Is that another animal's head on the right? There could be a third body crossing from left to right, judging by the hatching. And another interesting thing is the loop just right of centre top - is it a single ring on its own? If so, that reminds me of one accompanying one of the snakey creatures at Ramsbury.  The design's certainly not as coherent as the other Colerne block. But with the two arcing creatures and the mirrored knots, there's certainly something symmetrical going on. Interesting. What a shame that more hasn't survived.

Image © Rhiannon 2015