Thursday, 21 May 2015

Cricklade, Wiltshire

Another beautiful May day, so I stuck a stick in the eye of mild agoraphobic sensations and drove out to Cricklade (springtime home of the famous fritillary meadow). I felt about 150 walking down the highly picturesque high street (it didn't help that I walked in the wrong direction for some distance) but eventually found the church with its enormous tower.

High up inside the porch are two Saxon carvings. They seem quite unusual. The first really is as wonky as I've made it look - the ribbons are quite sausagey, varying in width, and they don't always match up very convincingly. But I'm not complaining.

The second one is insanely complicated. At first I thought 'God what am I going to do with this one'. But I took it slowly and worked from shape to shape and angle to angle and eventually the space filled up... it was very satisfying as to begin with it looked impossible. It's way above head height which did not make seeing what was really happening very easy.

It's sort of easy to see the Y shape as a tree, and it was sort of lumpy on the sides in a barkish way. But I've read in the Antiquary for 1892 that some people see it as a 'coped sepulchral stone' - I suppose the lid of a coffin, a bit like some of the ones we saw at Ramsbury. But I don't remember it being 'coped' (slopey) - I thought it was flat. But whatever.

From the Antiquary:
[There] are two stones till the other day built into the wall of the north porch of St Sanson's [sic] Church on the ground-level, in such a position that the congregation might conveniently use them to kick the dirt off their shoes upon before going into church. The vicar (Rev. H.J. Morton) has just had these stones taken out with a view to refixing them higher up in the wall out of harm's way. It was found that about one-third of their length was buried in the ground.

One measuring 21 inches in length by 15 1/2 inches in breadth is about half of a coped sepulchral stone, with cable moulding running round the edges and up the centre, and dividing into two branches, which run out to the corners. The side-panels are filled with much shallow and carelessly executed interlacing work without any admixture of animal forms. The triangular panel at the head is filled with lines which do not interlace, but take much of the form of a rough fleur-de-lys.

The other stone looks as if it might have formed part of a cross, though it has only one face, the other sides being rough and shapeless; it measures 20 1/2 inches by 9 inches. The whole face forms a panel enclosed within a plain border...

'Carelessly executed' is a bit mean but it is quite peculiarly wormy and irregular.

When I'd finished splashing on a bit of colour (they were indeed quite colourful, though through what I don't know), I had a perfunctory wander inside. It seems that I missed more exciting things - as hinted in the WANHS journal - an Anglo Saxon pilaster, a reused Roman altar with a burning ram's head (carving of, not actual - how exciting do you want) and some carved 'beasts heads'. I shall have to go back.

But as I walked back towards the car I felt completely and utterly relaxed, I felt like a Human Being. This is the benefit of visiting and drawing the stones.

Images copyright Rhiannon 2015.