Thursday, 9 April 2015

Kelston, North-East Somerset

There's a lot to be said for visiting places with a like-minded companion, because without one, my addled brain misses things. I've just had an excellent time drawing the Saxon carvings in St Michael's church, Kelston. But I nearly didn't get in there at all. I spent quite a long time rattling the door and reading the friendly church-related notices in vain and writing an impotent and entirely unsarcastic message on how they could at least leave a notice about where to get a key. Luckily, as I trudged away in acceptance of fate, I saw instructions, large as life, by the gate: key at Vine Cottage. And doubley lucky, I'm botanically minded enough to know a vine when I see one: and so the key was mine.

But I'm sure B would have spotted it straight away. She might also have recommended taking a photograph of the stone. And also looking at its other sides (one worn side seems to look like a stone at Ramsbury). How did I miss these things? How can a seasoned font-botherer omit this basic stuff. I have no idea. I was too engrossed in drawing and came away ridiculously chilled out though.

Saxon carving at Kelston, North-East Somerset, top panel of knotwork
(The top panel)

The stone has two panels of carving, one above the other. One's very organic, and seems remarkably reminiscent to me of the one at Chew Stoke. I suppose some might call it a 'tree of life' as it's apparently all sprouting from the bottom. You'll also notice a bit of the'classic Saxon motif', the twisted rope design. The other is more standardly knotty, but not in a strict regular fashion. Due to inattention I didn't mark any of the central lines in situ and just drew them in when I got home. So they're probably not entirely 'true'. But one imagines they'd all have been there when the stone was initially carved.

(The bottom panel)

As I didn't take a photo I offer this as a more realistic impresion of how the two panels look together. It's from 'Memorials of old Somerset' by F.J. Snell (1906). But he's not got it quite right either, he's been a bit elaborate in places and omitted the very bottom. But you get the impression.
Saxon carvings at Kelston, North-East Somerset

Now I did notice this below - or rather I noticed a replica of it, built into the doorjamb. Because, like the stones at Nunney and Somerford Keynes (see the bottom of this page), some hell-bound piece of dog excrement STOLE it in 2004. What on Earth?? They must have brought a chisel and levered it out of the stonework it was cemented into. It was a very pocket-sized 3" square. It's obvious, and I've said it before, but if they did it for themselves, could they not see the irony, bearing in mind the subject matter? And if they did it to sell to someone else, could that person not see the irony? It's such a niche interest, it really makes you wonder who's responsible - can there really be very many people who'd want this? And if it's only about the money, it has no provenance they can admit to publicly. What Was The Fucking Point?? You despicable idiot.

So anyway the photo is, I admit it, taken from the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture of South West England, by Rosemary Cramp. But I hope that (hypocrit alert) the person I've stolen it off wouldn't mind too much, since if the actual object ever surfaces, it'd be very good to have a picture of it on the internet in the hope that somebody decent might spot and recognise it.

If we're to go by the sculptures at Langford, then with this Jesus apparently being without his shirt, we're probably looking at Norman not Saxon times. The Corpus also explains that the position of the feet is also important in dating, with side-by-side being earlier than crossed. It's hard to know from this photo though. Perhaps the current holder can elucidate (spit).

Drawings copyright Rhiannon 2015.

1 comment:

  1. I'm shaking my head in disgust - I genuinely don't understand why these things are stolen but I agree it is good to put the picture out there - you just never know. Lovely Saxon knotwork.