Gargoyles: A grotesque carved human or animal face or figure projecting from the gutter, especially of Gothic buildings, used as a spout to carry water clear of a wall.
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Gargoyles - Mythology and Folklore - The White Goddess

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Saturday, 22 July 2017

Gargoyles

Gargoyles

Gargoyle

A grotesque carved human or animal face or figure projecting from the gutter, especially of Gothic buildings, used as a spout to carry water clear of a wall. The word Gargoyle is derived from an old French word gargouille, meaning throat.

La Gargouille, was a legendary dragon that lived in the River Seine, which in the 7th Century was ravaging the town and people of Rouen. It was slain by St Romanus, the Archbishop of Rouen. After the dragon was slain its body was set ablaze, its body was consumed by fire but the head and neck survived and was mounted on a building.

Technically an architect calls a waterspout on a building a gargoyle. If a stone carving does not carry water and has a face that resembles a creature, it is technically called a grotesque. A strange beast which combines several different animals is called a chimera.

Chimæra (From Greek khimaira, 'she-goat')

Was a fabulous monster in Greek mythology. According to Homer it has a lion's head, a goat's body, and a dragon's tail. It was born in Lycia and was slain by Bellerophon.

Gargoyles - Protectors from Evil.

There are many theories has to how and why medieval architects and stone carvers developed gargoyles. It is believed that they were used to ward of evil and to act as guardians of the church to keep the terrible spirits of evil away and were inspired from a passage written in the bible. Adrienne Mayor believes they were inspired by the skeletal remains and bones of dinosaurs, found by Greek and Roman palaeontologists. Many gargoyles are similar to the legends and figures of the ancients Celts, such as the Green Man or Jack of the Green ... the god of tree worship. The Pagan artists who carved these were inspired by their culture and were the last vestiges of paganism from an age when god would be heard in trees and river plains. Or are they representations of deep rooted elements within human nature and expressions of man's subconscious fears or attempts to define or embody evils of the world into manageable elements.

Whatever their true origins these awesome visual images have been with man for hundreds of years and they still seem to catch and inspire the imagination of modern society. Maybe they do, indeed, have a spirit of their own!

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